The Steelers released veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief and promoted running back Tony Brooks-James from the practice squad on Saturday.
Moncrief, one of the Steelers’ key free agent acquisitions over the offseason, had fallen behind rookie Diontae Johnson and second-year receiver James Washington on the Steelers depth chart after some early issues with drops. He had just four catches for 18 yards through the team’s first seven games.
The 26-year-old signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Steelers this offseason and his release will leave the Steelers with a $1.75 million dead cap hit for the 2020 season.
Moncrief’s release will allow the Steelers to recoup a potential compensatory draft pick that was put in jeopardy when the Philadelphia Eagles cut linebacker L.J. Fort. Fort, Le’Veon Bell and Jesse James counted for the Steelers as offseason free agency losses against gains of Moncrief and Steven Nelson.
With Fort and Moncrief out of the mix, the Steelers again will be in the mix for a high-round compensatory draft pick.
Brooks-James will be added to the roster to help a thin running backs room that will be missing third-string back Benny Snell, Jr., who is out after knee surgery, and starter James Conner, who is doubtful with a shoulder injury.
Usual backup Jaylen Samuels is expected to start against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, with veteran Trey Edwards serving as the primary backup.
Brooks-James is a 5-foot-9, 185-pound rookie back noted for his speed and ability to get to the edge. In four years at Oregon, he rushed for 1,863 yards on 283 carries. He joined the Steelers’ practice squad on Oct. 15 after previously spending time with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.