The First Cut’s Not Always the Deepest

The debate has started for the first set of cuts, which have to take place this week. By 4PM on August 30th, 15 current members of the squad will be out of work.

Who falls to the first axe?

I think a couple of these cuts would have been pretty easy, but the Steelers have already made the entire process easier, already cutting the roster down to 79 players by placing Jerald Hawkins on IR, waiving Dustin Vaugh as injured, and waiving outright he following: Jordan Zumwalt, Mike Reilly, Levi Norwood, Michael Cooper, Issac Blakeney, Giorgio Newberry, Julian Whigham and Khaynin Mosley-Smith. (I guess the only “notable” name in there is Zumwalt, who tried to battle back from multiple injuries the past two years, but just couldn’t make it all the way back.)

Here is a full list of the roster moves so far:

  • Issac Blakeney, WR
  • Michael Cooper, TE
  • Will Monday, P
  • Khaynin Mosley-Smith, DT
  • Giorgio Newberry, DE
  • Levi Norwood, WR
  • Mike Reilly, LB
  • Julian Whigham, CB
  • Jordan Zumwalt, LB

That really makes life easier for the Steelers, as instead of 15 players, they now only need to release 4 more to make the 75 man limit. So who is on the bubble? I have my opinion, and here are the guys I think may be looking for work come 4:01 PM on the 30th.

Antoine Everett (75%)

Ok, I would bet a good number of you are saying “Who?” Well that’s how most of these first cut downs work! I think there is a chance that no O linemen get chopped in this first round of cuts, but if any does, I think it might be Everett, who got the least playing time against the Saints, and because his single position status (he’s a guard) doesn’t provide the same type of flexibility as does someone like B.J. Finney (who I think has a shot to make the 53 this year, but if not will be on the practice squad).

Ray Vinopal (80%)

A safety who probably has no shot of making the team long term, but an outside shot at being on the practice squad. He played 9 defensive snaps on Friday night, and 1 special teams snap. I won’t be surprised if he is still here when we go to Carolina, but he’ll be gone after that.

Johnny Maxey (85%)

I think Maxey would be gone right now if Cam wasn’t hurt. He plays that position (DE) and you know, somebody has to be around to take snaps in the Carolina game. Still, as it stands right now the Steelers have 6 DE’s left on the roster, and 4 DT’s. The DT’s are Hargrave, Lavon Hooks, McCullers and Devaunte Sigler. The DE’s are Heyward, Lyons, Mathews, Tuitt and Walton. Of that group, Hooks may go, but since we have fewer tackles than ends left, I went with the end. If Hooks is gone, then Sigler, McCullers (who didn’t play at all in New Orleans due to an injury) and Hargrave would have to play the whole game, so I think he sticks, and we lose Maxey.

Jacob Hagen (85%)

Another safety who’s only shot at making the roster was on special teams, and he played all of 2 (yes, I said 2) snaps on special teams against the Saints. He was a camp body, and those are the guys who will be lost in the first cut down. I think he is a more likely cut than the first two guys, due to his position, and lack of snaps on special teams.

Jermauira Rasco (85%)

Of the linebackers who are left on the squad, it’s really Rasco or Mateevici who I think are in jeopardy, and Matakevich played special teams, while Rasco took 0 snaps on ST. He played 11 snaps on defense, to Matakevich’s 9, but Matakevich made more of his time (with that INT) than Rasco did. So I think he’s a potential cut.


Remember that there are only 4 more players who need to be cut, so it’s possible that a couple of these guys make it past this first round of cuts, but none of them have a realistic shot at making the final 53. The good news is that I think some of the fan favorites like Matakevich and Chickillo have a chance to stick around. Matakevich played a lot of special teams on Friday (9 snaps) and Chickillo has been growing, even though he’s been hampered by an injury. If they don’t make the final 53, they will definitely land on the practice squad.

We’ll see who’s around come Wednesday morning.

Until next time, and as always – GO STEELERS!

Note: This article was originally published on “Black ‘n’ Gold ‘Til I’m Dead and Cold“.

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