It's (FINALLY) that time of year again. Time for teams to load up their rosters to 90 players (10 more than in previous years, thanks to the new CBA), see who can do what, before they have to dwindle the roster down to the mandatory 53 prior to the start of the new season.
(The new CBA may allow more than 53 men on the roster, but since that information has not come out just yet, we will keep it at 53 for now)
Each year, there are players that could not play a pre-season down, and still have no worry as to making the club. Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncey, LaMarr Woodley are as set on the roster as Art Rooney is in the front office.
It is towards the bottom of that 53 where people are fighting for their jobs.
Here are a list of current Steelers that I believe are on the roster "bubble" and who is staying and who is going for the 2011 season.
When the Steelers decided to bring Larry Foote back for the 2010 NFL Season, some were shocked. People though that either Lawrence Timmons was not ready to be the full time starter (they would have been wrong) or as an insurance policy for James Farrior not being able to survive the season (they were also wrong).
Foote was brought back for depth at the position, because the Steelers only had Keyaron Fox and rookie Stevenson Sylvester to back up Farrior and Timmons.
Though Fox is about as good as Foote is (other then the occasional bone headed penalty in the Super Bowl), Stevenson Sylvester showed a lot of promise his rookie season, and will be ready to take the next step in a great line of Steelers LB's.
With a base salary for $2.4 million dollars, there is no chance that Foote will be back for the 2011 season.
After the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets, the belief was that they needed a player that could step in and be the deep threat in the slot. A position that El played amazingly his first stint with the Steelers.
Mike Wallace was going to be the top WR, while Hines Ward was going to work the chains, and get the tough first downs.
The Steelers had drafted two young men in the third and fifth round of the draft, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, but what are the odds of hitting a late round WR pick, after striking gold the previous season with Wallace?
Turns out, Brown and Sanders both played better than El did, especially after the mid way of the season, after they had the chance to learn the position.
For El to return to the Steelers, he would have to accept the role that the Steelers would give him, meaning the fourth receiver. It would mean that he would have to cover kicks and punts, neither of which he has done since his rookie season.
It would also meant that he would have to cut his salary from $2 million to league minimum, which probably isn't going to happen.
Trai Essex has been with the Steelers since being drafted in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. In that time, he has had numerous shots at earning playing time, and even a starting spot on an offensive line that has not exactly been known as one of the best in the NFL.
Essex has not been able to do so. After seven years in the NFL, if you have not earned the starting spot, then odds are, you aren't going to.
Weather it be poor play, numerous penalties, or simply getting beaten on a regular basis like eggs at the Waffle House, Essex is as good as gone for the Steelers.
At looking for pictures for this slide, almost every one had William Gay being beaten by his opponent. I gave up looking for one that had Gay as the better player.
During the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers used the pick they acquired from the New York Jets in the Santonio Holmes trade, to send to the Arizona Cardinals for Bryant McFadden.
See, the Steelers allowed McFadden to leave in 2009 as a free agent, because they believed that William Gay was going to be able to replace him.
Though it does not happen often, the Steelers missed that one, and it wasn't even close.
When the Steelers had the opportunity to place a restricted free agent tag on Gay, they passed (like all the other QB's in the NFL did to Gay in the 2010 season), meaning his days with the Steelers are pretty much over.
I would be willing to bet, William Gay may have played his last down in the NFL. The good news? At least he won't get beaten anymore.
The only player on this list that I will be sad to see leaving the Black and Gold, is Mewelde Moore.
Moore has been a great third down back for the Steelers. He is good at picking up blitzes, he is good at getting a few short yards on the ground, and he is good at catching the ball out of the back field. All pre-requisites of a great third down back.
The problem for Moore is, there is simply too much young depth on the Steelers roster for them to use a roster spot on him.
It is not like Moore is going to be looking to break the bank, but with Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and rookie Baron Batch, the odds are, the Steelers are not going to carry someone on the roster, when they have three others that are younger, and can do a similar job.
The only way Moore stays in Pittsburgh, is if there is an injury before he signs with another team.