Has Cobi Hamilton earned a spot on the Steelers active roster?

Has Cobi Hamilton earned a spot on the active roster?

That’s the million dollar question coming out of the Steelers bye week.

Pittsburgh currently has 6 receivers on their 53-man roster:

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Markus Wheaton
  3. Sammie Coates
  4. Eli Rogers
  5. Darrius Heyward-Bey
  6. Cobi Hamilton

Hamilton, a fourth-year journeyman wide receiver on his fifth NFL roster, was released by the Carolina Panthers and signed by the Steelers on August 5th of this year. He initially started turning heads in the preseason, making some spectacular catches, and working hard enough to earn a spot on the Steelers practice squad following the final roster cuts before the regular season.

With injuries taking out Wheaton, Rogers and Coates in recent weeks, Hamilton was promoted from the practice squad on October 15th. Wheaton has been nursing an injured shoulder, Rogers a foot injury and Coates is still dealing with complications due to a laceration and stitches to his hand.

With free agent TE Ladarius Green beginning his process to come off of the PUP list, practicing earlier this week, the Steelers need to make a roster move in order to free up a spot for Green, should they decide to activate during a 21-day evaluation period.

One of the names suggested as a candidate to be released is Hamilton, as he was brought up to the active roster to replace some of the injured receivers.

However, the status of Wheaton and Coates is uncertain, though both should improve in health with an extra week off during the bye. Should both be ready to go, the WR situation becomes more crowded, and a 6th option on the depth chart is highly unnecessary.

Yet, it’s another receiver’s misfortune that may create opportunity for the 6’2″ Hamilton:

Rogers failed to register a snap in Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. A source within the team revealed that Rogers has been having difficulty making it to team meetings on time, and that the benching was a disciplinary action.

With Rogers sitting, Hamilton has made the most of his time; starting two games, catching 5 of his 8 targets for 72 yards and a touchdown. Two of Cobi’s catches were clutch third down conversions, and he may have had another big play if an official had not missed his hand being held by a Patriots defender on a long pass attempt his way on Sunday.

Since Ladarius Green played over 60% of his snaps in San Diego from the slot last season, it’s possible that Rogers’ offensive reps could be in jeopardy, as Hamilton has played more of a role on the outside, rotating with Darrius Heyward-Bey and the injured Coates.

DHB also has 5 catches, but in 5 more games, for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns. His spot should be safe, as he signed a 3-year contract in the offseason, and offers additional support on special teams plays.

Coates, the Steelers 2015 third round draft choice, has made a name as a big-play receiver; currently second in the NFL with a 21.3 yards per catch average (20-425, minimum 2 receptions per game).

Obviously Antonio Brown isn’t going anywhere, and Markus Wheaton, in his last year of his rookie contract, could become a free agent in 2017. Wheaton’s name has been linked to the upcoming trade deadline, but I don’t see any team making a move for a player who’s been hurt for more games than he’s played this season.

Going back to the title question, I believe Hamilton has done enough to earn a roster spot, but whether or not the Steelers would move him off the 53-man roster, and risk him being poached off waivers (or their practice squad should he clear the waiver process) may be enough for him to remain, despite a bottleneck of WR talent on the team.

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