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Steelers All 90: Elandon Roberts Says Steelers Improved Offense Will Help Better The Defense

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Steelers Elandon Roberts

Elandon Roberts is back for his second season in the black-and-gold. After exceeding expectations on an individual level last season, Roberts is ready for the entire defensive unit to take a step forward. The reason behind the expected jump actually has nothing to do with who the team added on defense, but who they added on offense.

Roberts stated that he believes that practicing against Arthur Smith’s offense everyday is going to do wonders for the defense.

“This offense, you guys seen, it’s no secret how creative Arthur can be,” Roberts told Steelers Now. “I think it is good for us as a defense because he challenges our communication. He makes us be aware of certain things… It makes us not b-s.”

Roberts continued by talking about how Smith’s offense rushes to the line out of the huddle, his extreme use of pre-snap motions and shifts, and even Smith’s sometimes uncommon formations. He stated that in the past, the defense would play against a team that operated in this fashion and be caught off guard by it at times.

“Sometimes you can go through the motions because you are defense that knows each other so you start going through the motions and then you play a team that is like this and you go ‘oh shit, oh shit, it’s a surprise,'” Roberts explained. “We are seeing all of this now. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they come slow out of the huddle but you have got to anticipate them coming out with shifts, motions and unfamiliar formations.”

Last season, expectations were that Roberts would be a solid inside linebacker for the Steelers but what he gave the team was so much more. He quickly gained the green dot helmet and did not look back as he went onto post a career-high PFF grade.

Even with the Roberts’ experience of calling plays on the Steelers defense, newly signed linebacker Patrick Queen was told that he would be the green dot wearer in 2024. While Roberts’ role will be slightly diminished next season, it is not stopping him from being ready to be the lead communicator when called upon.

“[Patrick Queen] is running the huddle extremely well,” “One thing about this defense, everyone is going to communicate. Say for instance, PQ just went down the field chasing something down, I’ll take over the huddle or whoever the linebacker is in the game. Every linebacker has to know how to communicate, has to know what to do.”

While his role as the green dot wearer was usurped by Queen, Roberts is confident that the defense will make strides in 2024. Regardless, another strong year from Roberts may earn him another contract in Pittsburgh.

50 • Elandon Roberts, Inside Linebacker, Houston
6-foot-1, 238 pounds, 30 years old, 9th Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Roberts to a two-year, $7 million contract on March 16, 2023 after his contract with the Miami Dolphins expired following the 2022 season. The 2024 season will be the second season for Roberts as a member of the Steelers.

Last seasonDuring his first year as a member of the Steelers, Roberts rose to the top of the team’s depth chart and was a stud in the middle of the defense. Roberts started 15 of his 16 appearances and quickly became the green-dot wearer for the defense. Roberts manned one of the two inside linebacker roles and did it consistently next to a revolving door of running mates.

In his first season in the black-and-gold, Roberts earned the highest PFF grade of his career as his grade was 72.5, a whole eight points higher than his next-best season.

In his 15 appearances, Roberts logged 91 combined tackles, two and a half sacks, two passes defended and 10 tackles for a loss.

Elandon Roberts

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Elandon Roberts (50) tackles Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) during a game at Acrisure Stadium. Photo by Ed Thompson // Steelers Now

CareerThe New England Patriots drafted Roberts with the 214th pick in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Roberts appeared in 12 games as a rookie and made 43 tackles and forced a fumble on 271 defensive snaps. The Patriots won the Super Bowl in Roberts’ rookie season.

Roberts became a full-time starting linebacker in his second season for the Patriots and made his first two career sacks in a Week 12 game against the Dolphins.

In 2018, Roberts appeared in all 16 games and recorded 64 tackles and one sack on 429 snaps. Roberts recorded one tackle in the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory against the Los Angeles Rams.

Roberts was voted as a team captain during his final season in New Englans but played a career-low 202 defensive snaps. The Patriots used Roberts as a fullback in 2019 as well and he scored his first career touchdown against his future team, the Dolphins.

Roberts signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins following the 2019 season. The Dolphins named Roberts as the starting inside linebacker out of camp and he played in 13 games before being placed on the injured reserve. He finished his first year in Miami with 59 tackles, one and a half sacks, and one interception.

Roberts re-signed with the Dolphins for the 2022 and played in all 17 games while posting 77 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and one sack on 620 defensive snaps.

Roberts was named as a team captain for the Dolphins in 2022. He played a career-high 676 defensive snaps for the Dolphins and posted career-highs in tackles (70) and sacks (5) while recording a 57.1 grade on defense by Pro Football Focus.

Roberts tallied a two-sack game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6. In the Dolphins Week 7 matchup against the Steelers, Roberts recorded two tackles and a quarterback hurry on 35 defensive snaps.

Year Team GP Tackles Sacks FFs INTs DEF Snaps PFF Grade
2016 NE 13 43 0 1 0 271 64.5
2017 NE 15 60 2 0 0 558 48.3
2018 NE 16 64 1 0 0 429 63.2
2019 NE 16 24 1 0 0 202 61.9
2020 MIA 13 59 1.5 1 0 402 29.3
2021 MIA 17 77 1 2 1 620 54.1
2022 MIA 17 95 4.5 0 0 676 57.1
2023 PIT 16 91 2.5 0 0 581 72.5

CollegeRoberts committed to Morgan State and played phenomally as a freshman. In 2012, Roberts led the team with 107 tackles, which ranked second all-time in school history. Roberts finished 11th in the Jerry Rice award which is given to the nation’s top freshman at the FCS level. After his great freshman season, Roberts transferred to the University of Houston.

In his first season at Houston, Roberts spent time playing limited snaps as he appeared in just two games. He did not record any tackles as a sophomore.

In 2014, Roberts’ role increased at Houston as he played in 12 games and made 17 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss.

As a senior in 2015, Roberts started all 14 games for the Cougars as he finished with 142 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, one interception, and a forced fumble. Roberts helped lead Houston to an American Conference championship and a Peach Bowl victory over Florida State. Roberts earned an invite to the Senior Bowl following the season.

Year School GP Tackles Sacks INTs FF
2012 Morgan State 107 2 1 0
2013 Houston 2 0 0 0 0
2014 Houston 12 17 1 0 0
2015 Houston 14 142 6 1 1

Salary cap and future: Prior to the 2023 season, Roberts agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal with the Steelers. The 2024 season will be his second and last year on his current contract. OverTheCap listed Roberts’ 2024 cap hit as $4.67 million which is basically double to what he was paid last season.