If you’re a Steelers nut, you’re probably quite fascinated to see who makes the 53-man roster and who ends up being told to turn in their playbook. So am I. It’s one of the more engrossing weekends of the season.
But here’s a little secret. Who ends up earning the final roster spot or two isn’t really something to get too worked up over. If past history is a guide, the Steelers didn’t cut anyone who will make them significantly regret their decision.
Take a look at the most significant cuts over the past five years.
(Note: the 2011 cuts were just announced and I added them below, primarily for discussion’s sake. – Ryan)
(UPDATED, 4:50 p.m.) 2011 Cuts
Now there are a couple of players on that list who did end up latching on with other teams. Kuhn has stuck on the Packers roster for four years, but he has a grand total of 327 yards, so it’s hard to say he’s been an impact player.
McBean has played 30 games in the past two seasons for the defensive linemen starved Broncos, but he’s been serviceable at best. It’s hard to say that he would have even made the Steelers roster in either of those two years.
Roy Lewis has played as a backup defensive back for the Seahawks in the past two years, but again, it’s hard to say he would have even made the Steelers’ roster. With the cornerback injuries the Giants have had, Joe Burnett may make their roster, but again, he’s a fringy player at best.
Amazingly, Kraig Urbik may be the best player the Steelers have given up in recent years. He’s the starting right guard for the Bills. Now the Bills have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, but he is an NFL starter, and if he had been in Pittsburgh this year, he likely would have been in the competition for the right guard job. But even in Urbik’s case, it’s hard to say he’s better than the guys the Steelers have on the roster this year.
And if you notice, there are several names on that list who will play significant roles for the Steelers this year. Ryan Mundy, Doug Legursky and Issac Redman are valuable Steelers now, but at one point, they were all dumped and then managed to make it through waivers.
When it comes to making roster evaluations, the Steelers have a pretty good record of figuring out who to keep and who to cut. And when you get down to the final two or three roster spots, the reality is that few of those players are going to end up being more than role players, so while it’s important, it’s also unlikely to be the difference between the Steelers making another Super Bowl or missing out.