Veteran RB Named Steelers’ Leading Cut Candidate: Analysts

Cassius Marsh

Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images Running back Benny Snell of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries in front of linebacker Cassius Marsh of the Arizona Cardinals on December 08, 2019.

On Tuesday Brooke Pryor of ESPN named Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. as the veteran Steelers player most likely to get cut before the start of the 2021 regular season.

“Snell [has] had moments when he looked to be the Steelers’ next primary back, most notably in the 2020 season opener against the Giants, when he racked up 113 yards on 19 carries in James Conner’s absence. But he never came close to matching those numbers the rest of the season and wound up averaging just 3.3 yards per carry with four touchdowns,” notes Pryor, explaining her rationale in ESPN’s article.

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Indeed, Pryor isn’t the only reporter or analyst to have Snell at the top of his or her ‘potential cut’ list.

Last week, Patrick Walker of CBS Sports also named Snell as the most likely Steelers vet to be released on cutdown day, citing his “struggles in short-yardage situations.”


RB Jaylen Samuels More at Risk?

But with rookie Najee Harris drafted to be the team’s No. 1 option and James Conner now with the Arizona Cardinals, one could also argue that fourth-year back Jaylen Samuels is more likely to get cut than Snell.

Keep in mind that Samuels—a 2018 fifth-round pick out of North Carolina State—was behind both Snell and rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. in the pecking order last season. In fact, he carried the ball just nine times for 28 yards (3.1 yards per carry). Moreover, releasing Samuels would be less damaging financially, as it would trigger a dead money cap charge of just $64,516, according to overthecap.com.

Meanwhile, releasing Snell—who is entering the third year of a four-year contract—would put $175,517 in dead money on Pittsburgh’s 2021 salary cap. Never mind the fact that Snell is scheduled to earn $850,000 in salary this year, this as compared to Samuels, who is slated to earn $920,000.

There’s also the chance that both Snell and Samuels could get released, thanks to the presence of former Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers running back Kalen Ballage, who has been added on a one-year contract. It’s not inconceivable that the Steelers will keep just three tailbacks on the active roster (Harris, McFarland and Ballage), plus fullback Derek Watt. (Watt’s roster spot was effectively guaranteed when the Steelers restructured his contract back in March.)


What About Punter Jordan Berry and Quarterback Josh Dobbs?

Another veteran who is likely to get released is 30-year-old punter Jordan Berry, who must fend off a charge from 2021 seventh-round pick Pressley Harvin III.

Yet another obvious veteran cut candidate is quarterback Joshua Dobbs, a former fourth-rounder (2017) who will have to beat out former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who was signed to a one-year contract in January and figures to get a long look, thanks to the combination of his upside potential and decidedly low cost. Haskins has thus far earned positive reviews from teammates and coaches alike, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

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