Steelers make flurry of moves
The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t going to wait for wide receiver Sammie Coates to get healthy or regain his confidence.
Instead, the Steelers shipped Coates and his blazing speed but erratic hands to Cleveland on Saturday. Pittsburgh also sent a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft to the Browns in exchange for a sixth-round pick last season, the team’s most notable move as it trimmed its roster to 53.
Coates, a third-round pick in 2015, appeared on the verge of a breakout season in 2016. He had at least one 40-yard reception in each of Pittsburgh’s first five games, tying a franchise record. He injured two fingers during a victory over the New York Jets in Week 5 and was never the same. He underwent a pair of minor procedures on his left knee during the offseason and began training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Coates’ health issues combined with the return of Martavis Bryant from a drug suspension and an impressive camp by free agent Justin Hunter made Coates expendable.
The Steelers also traded cornerback Ross Cockrell to the New York Giants for a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. Cockrell, started 23 games across two seasons with Pittsburgh but was pushed by Coty Sensabaugh during camp and found himself the odd man out after the Steelers signed free agent Joe Haden on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh also released running back Knile Davis, signed in the offseason after four seasons in Kansas City. The Steelers kept Terrell Watson as the third back behind Le’Veon Bell and rookie James Conner after Watson led the team with 173 yards rushing during the preseason. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Liberty High School), who fumbled with the Steelers leading on the road in Denver in the 2015 playoffs, was also cut.
The Steelers also cut tight end David Johnson. Johnson worked primarily as a blocking tight end but found himself out of a job when Pittsburgh brought in Vance McDonald from San Francisco on Tuesday.
Cornerback Senquez Golson, a second-round pick in 2015, was also let go. Golson never played a down for the Steelers, spending all of 2015 and 2016 on injured reserve before getting hurt again during training camp. Instead Pittsburgh held on to Mike Hilton, a teammate of Golson’s at Mississippi who the Steelers signed to the practice squad last December as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Pittsburgh also cut ties with long snapper Colin Holba. The Steelers drafted Holba in the sixth round in April but Holba ended up losing a camp-long battle with Kameron Canaday to replace Greg Warren, who was let go last spring after 12 seasons with the team.
Wide receivers Demarcus Ayers and Cobi Hamilton, both of whom saw playing time in an AFC title game loss to New England in January, were also cut.