2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Projected Roster and Other Goodies (V 2.0)

Not much has transpired since our first roster projection for the 2012 Steelers more than two months ago. However, some minor transactions and news from minicamps has impacted the bottom of the roster, practice squad, and ordering of those closest to making the 53-man active roster or getting cut.

It would still be somewhat surprising if the Steelers do not add an inexpensive veteran running back and/or receiver before preseason games begin, since the team is precariously thin at receiver and will likely have only one healthy, proven NFL running back for opening day in Isaac Redman.

Starter Rashard Mendenhall claims he is recovering well from the torn ACL tear that sidelined him for the playoffs last year, but is still expected to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would require that he sit out at least the team’s first six games.

But with veteran and Mike Tomlin-favorite Mewelde Moore signing with the Vikings after not receiving an offer from Pittsburgh, the Steelers appear to be in wait-and-see mode to evaluate several youngsters while hoping that everyone stays healthy. Running back is one position where a cheap, but proven veteran can likely still be added even after training camp starts.

Thus, the only future transactions projected for this roster are the re-signing of veteran offensive tackle Max Starks and subsequent release of tackle Jonathan Scott some time in August, assuming Starks continues to progress in his rehab from a torn ACL, which was not as severe as the knee injury Mendenhall suffered and linemen generally can return to the field earlier from major lower-leg injuries.

The signing of Starks would not only provide a proven veteran to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside at left tackle – instead of immediately entrusting that key responsibility to rookie second-round pick Mike Adams – but would also likely help create a little more cash under the team’s 2012 salary cap to help pay the pro-rated signing bonus on a potential long-term deal for standout receiver Mike Wallace.

Although it is already counting against the Steelers’ cap, Wallace is the last restricted free agent in the NFL yet to sign his team-issued 1-year tender for around $2.5 million. Both sides are hoping for a long-term deal before the start of the 2012 season. Assuming one is reached, Wallace’s 2012 base salary could be dropped to say $700,000, although an upfront $15 million signing bonus prorated over 6 years would increase his cap number to $3.2 million for 2012.

The more the Steelers can pay Wallace now, the less burden he would count toward future salary caps, where Pittsburgh is in for terrifying doldrums for 2014 and 2015, especially if the NFL has little-to-no increases in annual team salary caps for the next three years, instead of a large increase in 2014 after new television deals are signed, which is what most fans believed – as seemingly did the Steelers’ brass based on their recent and risky habit of pushing back hefty salaries to future years – or at least were hoping would transpire.

Even if Starks does not re-sign with the Steelers, Jonathan Scott will likely be a cap casualty barring injury to others or his agreeing to take a significant paycut, since the Steelers would save $2.2 million in 2012 (which is also the last year of his contract) with his release and he is not expected to start regardless of Starks’s status. In such an event, rookie seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum and Chris Scott would be the lead contenders for the ninth and likely final offensive line spot, with both offering much cheaper alternatives than Jonathan Scott or Starks.

However, even though other teams have expressed interest in Starks and some experts believe he will not return to the Steelers, Starks has repeatedly said his preference is to return to Pittsburgh, the Steelers would like him to return if healthy, and unless some team loses its projected starting left tackle to injury in the next six weeks, no other franchise is likely to offer much more than the veteran’s minimum to a 30-year-old who has seen his last two seasons end due to serious injuries. Thus, paying Starks around a million per year would be a bargain for the Steelers, even if he finished the year serving as the No. 3 tackle or only started a few games before another injury.


Projected 53-Man, Opening-Day Roster

** = Roster Lock (95% or better barring major injury or arrest)

* = Roster Near Lock (75-94% barring major injury or arrest)

No stars = Clinging to the 53-man roster at this point

(These stars assume no more roster additions – outside of Starks – or season-ending/major injuries)


QB Ben Roethlisberger **

QB Byron Leftwich *

QB Charlie Batch *

RB Isaac Redman **

RB Jonathan Dwyer *

RB Baron Batch

RB/WR Chris Rainey *

FB/H-Back D.J. Johnson *

TE Heath Miller **

TE Leonard Pope

TE//H-Back David Paulson

WR Mike Wallace **

WR Antonio Brown **

WR Emmanuel Sanders **

WR Jerricho Cotchery **

WR Toney Clemons

LT Max Starks * (projected FA signee, which would trigger the release of Jonathan Scott)

LG Willie Colon **

C Maurkice Pouncey **

RG David DeCastro **

RT Marcus Gilbert **

C/G Doug Legursky **

T Mike Adams **

G Ramon Foster *

G/T/C Trai Essex *



DE Ziggy Hood **

NT Casey Hampton **

DE Brett Keisel **

DE Cameron Heyward **

NT/DE Steve McLendon **

NT Alameda Ta’amu **

DE/NT Al Woods

OLB James Harrison **

OLB LaMarr Woodley **

OLB Jason Worilds *

OLB Chris Carter

OLB/ILB Brandon Johnson

ILB Lawrence Timmons **

ILB Larry Foote **

ILB Stevenson Sylvester *

ILB Sean Spence **

SS Troy Polamalu **

FS Ryan Clark **

S Ryan Mundy **

S Will Allen *

S Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith

CB Ike Taylor **

CB Keenan Lewis **

CB Cortez Allen **

CB Curtis Brown **



K Shaun Suisham

P Drew Butler

SN Greg Warren *


PUP (minimum of 6 games): RB Rashard Mendenhall

Suspended (4 games): TE Weslye Saunders


Opening Game-Day Inactives (7): WR Toney Clemons, TE/H-B David Paulson, OG Ramon Foster, OL Trai Essex, NT Casey Hampton (likely will not be healthy at this point, but should be long before game No. 7) or DL Al Woods, LB Brandon Johnson S Ryan Clark (because game is in Denver, where Clark’s sickle cell trait prevents him from playing in high altitudes)


Last 22 Released From Camp (in order of how close they are to making team and their position matters): P Jeremy Kapinos, DE Corbin Bryant, CB Terrence Frederick, OL Kelvin Beachum, WR Derrick Williams, RB John Clay, WR Marquis Maze, FB Will Johnson, OL Chris Scott, K K Daniel Hrapmann, SN Matt Katula, ILB Mortty Ivy, OLB Adrian Robinson, Jr., TE/FB/H-B Jamie McCoy, S Myron Rolle, S Robert Golden, QB Jerrod Johnson, WR Juamorris Stewart, OG/C John Malecki, CB Terry Carter, OG Ryan Lee, DE Ikponmwosa Igbinosun


Last 16 To Make the Team (in order of likelihood of being cut and their position matters): P Drew Butler, S Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, DE/NT Al Woods, LB Brandon Johnson, TE/FB/H-B David Paulson, OLB Chris Carter, WR Toney Clemons, TE Leonard Pope, RB Baron Batch, K Shaun Suisham, S Will Allen, SN Greg Warren, FB/H-B D.J. Johnson, QB Charlie Batch, RB Jonathan Dwyer, RB/WR Chris Rainey


Practice Squad (8): RB John Clay, WR Marquis Maze, OG/OT Kelvin Beachum, OT/OG Chris Scott (I believe he does still have 1 year left of practice-squad eligibility with the Steelers), DE Corbin Bryant, OLB Adrian Robinson, S Robert Golden, CB Terrence Frederick

This entry was posted in 2012 steelers, Analysis, Free Agency, Front Office, Offensive Line, Preseason, Wide Recievers. Bookmark the permalink.
  • andy

    I don’t believe Kapinos will be beaten out for the punting job. Also I believe Barron Batch will make the team. Otherwise good read.

    • ted

      Andy: I have Batch on the 53-man roster. Kapinos-Butler should be a great battle. Kapinos has three edges on Butler: NFL experience, quicker getting the punt off against a rush, and experience kicking in cold weather. As a Georgia and Penn State fan, I have watched most punts that either of these guys have done since HS, and can tell you that Butler is a flat-out better all-around punter in all areas other than those three listed above. Whether that is apparent during the preseason remains to be seen. I do like Kapinos, though, compared to Robo Punter, because he was more consistent, a much better pooch punter, carried a cheaper salary, and was not the most often-injured punter in the NFL.

      • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

        Good analysis, as usual, Mr. Kian. The only surprise for me was your choice of Butler instead of Kapinos, but I understand your reasons. Also, I’ve read rumors that Worilds’ wrist injury is more severe than initially reported, which if true, would certainly mess up the pecking order of the linebacker corps.

        • EasyLikeSundayMorning

          If that’s true on Worilds, then I’m glad to read Ted’s comments about Johnson being able to play OLB. It would be nice not to have Juan switch positions mid season again.

  • kerry

    Don’t be suprised to see Terry Carter make at least the practice squad..Fastest corner in camp..

    • ted

      If Frederick makes the 53-man roster (which is a strong bet), then I could easily see Carter making the practice squad, with either Cromartie-Smith or Golden on the practice squad but not both. The Steelers usually keep a CB for the 9th DB. The main reasons I have Cromartie-Smith are because Clark is sidelined for the first game and – to a lesser extent – for special teams.

  • Eric

    Ted got out his crystal ball out, the Steelers just signed Starks to a 1 year deal:


    • ted

      Figured it was coming, but thought it would be later into camp. Great news, though, with no financial risk and a potential bargain for the Steelers. Plus, I am sure the team would rather oversee Max’s rehab in person, as well his weight, and he still has to learn the new offense under Haley even if he cannot practice in pads for a while.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Ted, sounds about right to me. This would be the fewest CBs I can remember in recent years, as well as the most S and TE/FB. Small question: your key says “barring injury,” so why are Leftwich and Chaz only one and not two stars?

    I know basically nothing about Paulson or Brandon Johnson. Any perspective on them?

    • ted

      1 star means up to a 95% shot of making the roster, so they are still strong favorites to both make the roster. At some point the team is going to keep a youngster as the No. 3 QB and J. Johnson has some serious talent. Earlier in his AM career, a lot of folks thought he could be a first- or second-round pick, so it was a surprise when he was not drafted. But Leftwich and Batch are likely to make the roster, assuming both can stay healthy through the preseason, something that has not happened for both together in several years.

      Paulson was a productive, but not very athletic pass-catching TE/H-back at Oregon who faced good pass defenses, but was not asked to play much smash mouth football in the Ducks’ spread offense in a conference that lacks physicality compared to the SEC or Big Ten. He has a chance to be a good pass-catching TE and is a wiling blocker, but may be relegated to the practice squad after Saunders returns from suspension. People who think Saunders could be cut are nuts. He has starting potential and is probably the Steelers’ most talented tight end, even ahead of Miller in that respect, although he is nowhere near as good as Heath at this point of his career.

      Johnson was an interesting signee. Lots of ST experience, as well as some stars at OLB with the Bengas. We are initially playing him at ILB. Combine all that versatility and he becomes a favorite to make the roster as a No. 8 or No. 9 OLB. He also provides some nice veteran depth at ILB, where only Timmons and Foote have much NFL experience, and at OLB, where Worilds is always injured, and the other three (Harrison, Woodley and Carter) each missed multiple games with injuries last season as well.

    • Ted

      If the first game were not in Denver, I’d probably lean toward Frederick over C.Smith for the ninth DB spot, since carrying 5 CBs and 4 safeties (as you correctly note) is more normal for the Steelers.

  • Eric

    Starks is apparently healthier than we all realized. The Steelers just released Jonathan Scott. That suggests to me that they think Starks will be ready for camp/week 1.

    • Rob D

      Hallelujah! There is a Goddess..(
      Hippolyta, whose magical girdle, given to her by her father Ares, was the object of one of the labours of Hercules.)

      Scott is one of those headscratchers..backup? OK, I can see that. But starter? How could they have even thought that? Ever?

      The draft of potential stud O-line guys kinda glosses it over but SCott and also the fight for the RG position with everybody and his brother being considered was a dark chapter in recent Steeler personnel decisions.


    QB Ben Roethlisberger
    QB Charlie Batch
    QB Byron Leftwich
    HB Isaac Redman
    HB Jonathan Dwyer
    HB Baron Batch
    HB/WR Chris Rainey
    FB David Johnson
    WR Mike Wallace
    WR Antonio Brown
    WR Emmanuel Sanders
    WR Jerricho Cotchery
    WR Toney Clemons
    TE Heath Miller
    TE Leonard Pope
    TE David Paulson
    LT Mike Adams
    LT Max Starks
    LG Willie Colon
    LG Doug Legursky
    C Maurkice Pouncey
    RG David DeCastro
    RG Ramon Foster
    RT Marcus Gilbert
    RT Trai Essex

    DE Ziggy Hood
DE Corbin Bryant
    DE Brett Keisel

    DE Cameron Heyward
    NT Casey Hampton
NT Alameda Ta’amu

    NT Steve McLendon
    LOLB LaMarr Woodley
    LOLB Chris Carter
    ILB Lawrence Timmons
ILB Larry Foote
    ILB Stevenson Sylvester
    ILB Sean Spence
    ROLB James Harrison
    ROLB Jason Worilds
    CB Ike Taylor
    CB Keenan Lewis
    CB Cortez Allen
    CB Curtis Brown
    CB Terrence Frederick
    FS Ryan Clark
    FS Ryan Mundy
    SS Troy Polamalu
    SS Myron Rolle
    SS Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith
    K Shaun Suisham
P Drew Butler

    LS Greg Warren
    QB Jerrod Johnson
    HB John Clay
    WR Marquis Maze
    G/T Kelvin Beachum
    DE Ikponmwosa Igbinosun
    OLB Adrian Robinson
    S Robert Golden
    HB Rashard Mendenhall
    TE Weslye Saunders (4 games)

  • frankthebuc

    Starks will go down as will W. Colon, sometime this season. The good news is that both Adams, Decastro and Foster should play very well.

    Thanks for helping us get to the Super Bowl, jscott. You are a swing tackle and no more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Okay, guys. Training camp is open. Time to get back to work.