On Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers made five roster moves to get down to the 80-man limit. The big shock was that former 2020 sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks Jr. was waived/injured. At the beginning of training camp, Brooks was viewed as the most likely successor to Mike Hilton as Pittsburgh’s new slot cornerback. But he suffered what was initially described as a “minor” injury on July 25, and went on to miss the past two preseason games.
3 Cuts on the Offensive Side of the Ball
None of the other four cuts can be considered a surprise, even though several of the players showed promise in training camp and preseason games.
That includes wide receiver Tyler Simmons, who was responsible for the team’s first touchdown of the preseason (vs. the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game). The Steelers signed Simmons in March after he impressed at the University of Georgia’s 2021 Pro Day, but he has been overshadowed by several other promising undrafted free agent wideouts, including Rico Bussey and Mathew Sexton.
Two of the other cuts were on the offensive side of the ball, namely, running back Pete Guerriero and offensive lineman Aviante Collins.
Guerriero—who was the 2019 FCS Running Back of the Year (Monmouth University)—was signed by the Steelers less than three weeks ago. He had virtually no chance of making the roster, as the Steelers are now in good shape at the running back position with Najee Harris as the starter and Anthony McFarland and Kalen Ballage looking like the primary backups. Meanwhile, the Steelers still have Tony Brooks-James—who was signed after getting released by the Atlanta Falcons in late July—plus former mid-round draft picks Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels.
As for Aviante Collins, the Steelers inked him to a one-year Reserve/Future contract in February, and despite a rare combination of size, speed and strength, his natural ability has not translated into a regular role in the NFL.
Last but not least, the Steelers also released linebacker Calvin Bundage, who originally signed with the team in May as a priority undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State. He was released in July to make room for free agent acquisition Melvin Ingram III, only to be brought back two days later.
Pittsburgh made its first round of cuts on Tuesday Aug. 17. The team needs to reduce its roster to 53 players by Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. ET.
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Jaguars Release Former Steelers Draft Pick
In other news from Tuesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars released ex-Steelers offensive tackle Derwin Gray, as per NFL reporter Aaron Wilson.
The Jaguars claimed Gray on waivers last December when Pittsburgh added inside linebacker Tegray Scales to its 53-man roster.
The Steelers had waived the 2019 seventh-round pick a day earlier, making it the second time in two seasons that the Pittsburgh lost a promising young lineman via a waiver claim. In Oct. 2019 the Steelers lost offensive tackle Fred Johnson to the Cincinnati Bengals; he has since played in 18 games for the Bengals, with seven starts, including one at left tackle against the Steelers.