The Pittsburgh Steelers cut the roster down to 80 on Tuesday, but are not done making roster moves this week and in the coming weeks. Mike Tomlin is always looking to improve his group and if it so happens that someone of interest becomes available, the franchise will look to add him. That is exactly what happened on Wednesday afternoon. According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the team was awarded safety, Elijah Riley off waivers on Wednesday afternoon.
Steelers awarded Elijah Riley off waivers from Jets
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) August 24, 2022
If the name sounds somewhat familiar to Steelers fans, it should. As a member of the Philadelphia Eagles last season, he intercepted Joshua Dobbs in the preseason. Riley has some familiarity with the front office as assistant General Manager, Andy Weidl spent similar seasons with the Eagles and this will now be both individuals first years with the organization.
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2021
The addition comes as a bit of a surprise as the Steelers safety depth is one of the team’s strong suits, but after the season-ending injury to Karl Joseph, it gives the defense even more options in the secondary. With rosters needing to be set at 80, a corresponding move was necessary in order to make room for Riley and that led to safety, Donovan Stiner being waived by the organization.
Riley, who graduated from Army in 2019, has spent time with the Eagles in previous preseasons, but was un-drafted out of college. He saw a solid amount of time with, however, with the New York Jets last year. He played in seven games and had 45 total tackles and a sack. He has great experience at cornerback as well, playing the position all four years in college. He has played in both preseason games for the Jets and totaled six total tackles.
Riley was a four-year starter at Army, although his sophomore season was cut short due to injury. He played in all 13 games the other three years and had 201 tackles, 7.5 sacks and seven interceptions throughout his career. He doesn’t have a ton of NFL experience, but a solid college pedigree is most likely one of the main reasons the Steelers organization claimed him off waivers.
Stiner had been with the Steelers organization after signing as an un-drafted free agent out of the University of Florida in 2021. The front office went on to sign him to a reserves/future contract after the season ended in January and he had seven total tackles this preseason including six in last weekend’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
We can’t expect Riley to jump into the rotation immediately, but the release of Stiner and addition of the newcomer will give Riley some chances to work into and with certain groups in practice. The cutdown to a 53-man roster looms and Riley does not have a lot of time to prove himself. With that said, The Steelers clearly liked something they saw from him and remember his ability to make a play after he intercepted Dobbs a year ago.
Steelers fans can expect more moves next week with the final roster reduction and time will tell if Riley will find a way to make the team and help with depth amidst the loss of Joseph and release of Stiner. It will be something to watch out for if he takes any reps at cornerback also. It is unlikely, but he has the playing experience to step into the position.
What do you make of the most recent roster move and team’s newest member? Let us know in the comments below!