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Steelers Analysis

What We Learned From Latest Steelers Cuts



Steelers LB Nick Kwiatkoski

PITTSBURGH — With another round of cuts done on Monday, Pittsburgh inches closer to their final roster. By the end of Tuesday, they will be down to 53 players. But from the latest rounds of cuts, what did we learn about the Steelers and their plans for the roster? Here are a few of those things.

This Team Values Nick Kwiatkoski

With Tanner Muse’s release, one player rises above the fray as a clear winner — Nick Kwiatkoski. Kwiatkoski has a clear path to the 53-man roster and offers plenty of special teams utility, just like Muse. But he has played more as a traditional linebacker, giving Pittsburgh the option to work with Kwiatkoski as both a boon to the special teams units and keep him around for linebacker depth. He may not even make the final roster, as the team could carry four inside linebackers instead of five with Muse out of the building.

Maybe Muse circles back, but releasing him this early signals that might not be what happens here. Instead, if they only keep four inside linebackers, Kwiatkoski likely soaks up that last inside linebacker spot on the practice squad. He earned it with some solid games and practices down the stretch.

Value of Braden Mann?

Something seemed up after the first wave of cuts took B.T. Potter and Rex Sunahara but not Braden Mann. The veteran punter could have been released early to find a spot on another roster. But there could be interest for a punter like Mann in the league. Maybe the Steelers can get a draft pick for Mann. Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network reported this weekend that Mann is drawing interest from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Again, this signals there could be some real smoke to this rumor. Maybe teams are calling about the veteran punter, who has a reputation as a proven player in the NFL. Do not be surprised if the Steelers could flip Mann for a late-round pick if teams call about him.

DB Practice Squad Spots

Right now, I think the Steelers will keep ten defensive backs. At this point, the practice squad spots seem relatively clear, too. Kenny Robinson, Jalen Elliott, and Lavert Hill are now gone. For safeties, Trenton Thompsn and Tre Norwood look to have the inside lane for those practice squad spots. Thompson earned it after showcasing his ball-hawking skill during training camp and the preseason. Norwood is a player with a high floor that the Steelers can always lean on.

Meanwhile, Chris Wilcox and Luq Barcoo remain on the roster at cornerback. If they remain internal with those practice squad spots, those two guys seem like the players who are likely to fill that void. Wilcox and Barcoo steadily rose up the depth chart throughout training camp, and Pittsburgh seems invested in both players.

Loaded OLB Room

The fact that Toby Ndukwe got released says it all about the Steelers’ outside linebacker room. Ndukwe has an athletic upside and did have a productive preseason. But so did Quincy Roche and David Perales. Ndukwe should catch on somewhere if he does not circle back to Pittsburgh and their practice squad. Roche and Perales feel like potential waiver wire claims from teams around the NFL.

Regardless, Ndukwe should not have qualms about his performance during the preseason. He played well; the room is just loaded from the top through the depth players. The numbers game got him there, but he deserves to make an NFL practice squad.

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