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.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Delivers Pizzas to Steelers Fans
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is bringing some joy to fans during tough times.
Smith-Schuster spent his Tuesday afternoon delivering pizzas for PizzaHut, and even took the time to snap a pic with a young fan, courtesy of JimStamm22 on Twitter.
Hopefully, this gives everyone a little lift today. @TeamJuJu just delivered @pizzahut to our house in Pittsburgh. He even took a little time to take a picture with our son, Ben. Thanks Juju, you made our day!!! 👍😁🍕#Steelers #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/u7u561SheP— ForTheCity_412 (@JimStamm22) June 2, 2020
A fan favorite, Smith-Schuster is entering his fourth season in Pittsburgh.
After an explosive sophomore season in 2018, Smith-Schuster battled injuries and inconsistent quarterback play that combined for a lackluster 2019.
With the return of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster appears primed to deliver more than pizzas this upcoming season.
Report: Steelers to Hold Training Camp at Team Facility, Not at Saint Vincent College
It looks like the Steelers will be staying home for training camp this August.
According to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday, the league has informed teams that they must hold training camp at their facilities later this summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And so the NFL has told all its teams that they must stay at their team facilities for this summer's training camps.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 2, 2020
The Steelers will now be conducting training camp on the South Side, instead of their traditional summer home of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, snapping a 54-year streak.
The league still plans for training camp to begin on time, but has made no announcement on changes to the season or whether games will have fans.
Steelers Honor 2020 Graduates at Heinz Field
The Pittsburgh Steelers are showing love to the 2020 graduates that had their senior years cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team honored this year’s graduating class by displaying a congratulatory message on the scoreboard at Heinz Field Friday night.
You worked hard.— Heinz Field (@heinzfield) May 30, 2020
You did your best.
You gave it your all.
You earned this.
Congratulations to the class of 2020! pic.twitter.com/bzykmUF6u7
A few current and former Steelers players also voiced their support on social media, including running back James Conner, defensive end Cam Heyward and retired defensive end Brett Keisel.
“Keep focused, keep chasing your dreams,” Conner said. “I know 2020’s been a wild year, but just stay focused, stay locked in. I know you guys are all going to go and accomplish great things.”
Congratulations to the graduates of the Class of 2020!— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 29, 2020
Tonight at 8:20 pm, we honor you by displaying a special congratulatory message on the videoboard at @HeinzField!@JamesConner_ | @CamHeyward | @bkeisel99 pic.twitter.com/HaG5SVofNi
Students across the Pittsburgh area have been forced to finish the school year from home, and have unfortunately had to miss out on some of life’s biggest milestones, such as prom and graduation day.
It’s great to see the Steelers doing their part to make students feel celebrated and recognized.