What is RB Jaylen Samuels still doing on the Steelers roster?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been excellent in 2020, but fans want to know why Jaylen Samuels is still taking up a roster spot.

It’s hard to find any complaints about the way the Pittsburgh Steelers have been managing their football team this year. The defense is still one of the best units in the league, and their offense is averaging just over 30 points per game through their first 9 contests. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t have a few questions.

One of the biggest comes at the running back position. Pittsburgh has been putrid on the ground over the last three games, and this marked the first time in Steelers history that they have had three straight games with under 50 yards rushing. Remarkably, their inability to get the running game going hasn’t yet affected them in the win column.

For the most part, Pittsburgh has solid depth all around their team. They are four-deep at the wide receiver position, Kevin Dotson has proven to be very good at guard when he’s been asked to come in, and some backup secondary players have really stepped up to the plate into larger roles this season. However, one thing I can’t wrap my head around is why Jaylen Samuels still holds a roster spot on this team.

Why is Jaylen Samuels still on the Steelers?

Most of the time, when a team keeps a fourth running back on the roster (fullbacks excluded) it means that they are a solid special teams contributor. However, that is not the case at all when it comes to Jaylen Samuels. The fourth-string running back has played just 32 percent of special teams snaps this season, according to Pro Football Reference, and has managed just 1 tackle in this department (you heard that right). Yet, the Steelers find a way to give him a hat each and every week this season.

On offense, Samuels has been even more non-existent. He’s carried the ball just 3 times this year for a total of 8 yards (2.7 yards per carry). He’s been even less efficient in the passing game – managing to catch just 2 of 5 targets for 5 yards (2.5 yards per reception). His most memorable play this year was a key third-down drop. I remember asking myself ‘what is he doing on the field in that situation.’

I’ll admit, Jaylen Samuels was a fun little experiment coming out of North Carolina State in 2018. He played a hybrid tight end role at the collegiate level, and the offense essentially ran through him. But due to his stature (5’11 1/2” and 225 lbs), the Steelers tried to turn him into a full-time running back. Unfortunately, he just never turned out to be anything more than a below-average player.

I’m always willing to give players ample time before casting a judgment on the direction their career is heading, but now well into his third season with the Steelers, I see no benefit in keeping him around any longer. Perhaps Pittsburgh should use that roster spot on someone who will be more beneficial on special teams or on offense this year.