The Pittsburgh Steelers are cutting their roster down to just 80 players, but here’s why one decision, in particular, is stirring up controversy.
The Steelers were approaching the second of three NFL cut-down deadlines. After dropping their roster from 90 to 85 players last Tuesday, Pittsburgh was forced to get down to 80 players by the 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time deadline today. There were plenty of players on the bottom of the roster they could have chosen from, but Mike Tomlin elected to make a very interesting decision that was sure to come with some backlash.
On the afternoon of August 23rd, Pro Football Network reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers have officially released rookie QB, Chris Oladokun. This came as a bit of a surprise after Kevin Colbert used a seventh-round draft choice to double up on the quarterback position this past April.
With a healthy competition between Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and fellow rookie QB, Kenny Pickett, there just weren’t many snaps to go around for Oladokun all summer during training camp. Many thought that the rookie would first step onto the NFL stage in Week 2 of the preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but this wasn’t the case either. Instead, the Steelers curiously rolled with fifth-year veteran Mason Rudolph for the entire second half.
Why did Steelers release their draft pick without giving him a chance?
I can’t say that I’m completely shocked by the decision to release Chris Oladokun based on the limited opportunities that we have seen, but I thought there was a very specific reason the team drafted him in the first place.
The initial thought process was that the team used a late-round draft selection on Oladokun for financial reasons. While Oladokun was never expected to compete for the top backup job or even see the field for that matter (at least not early on), the idea was that the team would keep him around on a cheap, four-year rookie deal in an effort to save money on a scout-team quarterback.
Technically, Pittsburgh can still sign him back, but releasing him voids his initial contract with the team, and they would no longer have this benefit. So what were Mike Tomlin’s intentions here?
The Steelers do have three capable quarterbacks still on the roster, so perhaps that influenced his decision. It’s also possible that the team could have been trying to shop Rudolph for draft capital before they simply decided to keep him on the roster as the QB3.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Chris Oladokun is signed to the practice squad, but this just seemed like a curious decision here. I’ll be interested to see what the final plan is for the Steelers quarterback in 2022. If they are in fact done with Oladokun, it certainly seems like they wasted a draft choice this year.