3 veterans who won't make the Steelers' Week 1 roster

The Steelers have some veterans who could be on the outside looking in come Week 1 this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (92).
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (92). / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers offseason has been up-and-down, with some well-received moves (excellent draft, cheap upgrades at QB) and some questionable decisions (trading Diontae Johnson, hiring Arthur Smith).

Still, the overall health and quality of the roster compared to 2023's version is notably better as training camp nears. Players who were guaranteed roster spots in past years and even some new additions may not be good enough to make the 53-man roster.

Let's look at some potential veteran players who may be out of luck come Week 1.

Quez Watkins may be redundant with other receiving options

The Steelers have brought in several low-end receivers to replace the departed trio of Allen Robinson, Diontae Johnson, and Miles Boykin. Van Jefferson, Scotty Miller, and Quez Watkins all signed for the veteran minimum this free agency, and you could pick any one of these guys to not make the team without much argument. Watkins though feels like the odd man out to me when considering what he brings skillset-wise to the room.

Watkins is a pure deep threat with plenty of speed to burn, but he has just one full season of real success filling that role. Calvin Austin lll and Miller both have a similar skillset but offer value on special teams that Watkins hasn't so far in his career. Jefferson meanwhile is a bigger-bodied outside receiver who can hopefully be a possession receiver opposite George Pickens.

Unless Watkins can prove he is a significantly better burner than both Miller and Austin lll, I don't see him making the team out of camp.

Cam Sutton's return likely the end for Anthony Averett

The slot corner spot was one of the few glaring issues still present for the Steelers after free agency and the draft, so much so that they brought in a player who was out of the league in 2023 as a potential solution.

Anthony Averett has mostly played outside corner since entering the league in 2018, but his smaller size (5'11, 185lbs) may be a better fit inside while still providing depth outside. With so many young and unproven players in the corner room, adding a veteran like Averett made sense.

That was until former Steelers corner Cam Sutton returned to the team on a one-year deal following his release from the Detroit Lions. Legal issues aside, Sutton will almost assuredly be the team's primary slot corner in 2024 and provide depth on the outside, just like Averett would have been asked to do.

Now that Sutton can provide the veteran presence that the group needs, Averett will have a hard time beating out the younger and more talented guys down the depth chart.

Late-round pick in 2024 could be Isaiahh Loudermilk's replacement

When the Steelers sent a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Dolphins for their fifth-rounder in 2021 to select Isaiahh Loudermilk, many at the time (including myself) questioned the decision.

Loudermilk had a solid but unspectacular career at Wisconsin as a tall, lean defensive tackle at 6'7 293lbs. He wasn't a great athlete on film or at his pro day, and he wasn't productive as a pass rusher (just 7.5 career sacks in 40 games at Wisconsin). So what could a plodding, undersized defensive tackle possibly provide the Steelers' defense?

Well, it turns out not very much through three seasons. Loudermilk has played in 42 games with just under 600 snaps on defense and produced just one sack, one tackle for loss, and three pass deflections. The Steelers added another smaller defensive tackle in the 2024 NFL Draft, snagging Iowa's Logan Lee in the sixth round. This time, though, they at least took a good athlete with some pass-rush upside.

Unless Loudermilk can show some signs of improvement across the board, he could be looking for a new team by the time Week 1 rolls around.