Nick Kwiatkoski

Steelers Set 53-Man Roster

The Steelers have made many of their cuts already. Here are the rest of Pittsburgh’s moves to trim their roster to the 53-man limit. Some of these players are likely to end up on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. Those 16-man units will be set Wednesday, with waivers processing at 11am CT.



The Steelers made several cuts in the days leading up to the deadline, while also sending Kendrick Green to the Texans and Kevin Dotson to the Rams. Kwiatkoski is the biggest name among their final-day moves.

A Pittsburgh-area native, Kwiatkoski signed with his hometown team midway through the offseason, adding him to a revamped linebacking corps. Pittsburgh shuttled out the likes of Myles Jack, Devin Bush and Robert Spillane — via releases (Jack) or free agency defections — and added Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. A former part-time Bears and Raiders starter who spent last season with the Falcons, Kwiatkoski, 30, returns to free agency.

Gentry worked as a Steelers starter alongside Pat Freiermuth for the past two seasons. The former fifth-round pick caught 19 passes in each of the past two campaigns. It is possible Gentry, as a vested veteran, returns after the Steelers take care of other roster business. As of now, only two tight ends — Freiermuth and third-round pick Darnell Washington — are on the 53-man roster.

Latest On Steelers’ ILB Situation

The Steelers will have quite a different look at inside linebacker in 2023 than they had in 2022. Free agency took a toll on the room in the offseason but still helped them to reload a bit at the position. In a mailbag Q&A this week, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic addressed the question of whether or not Pittsburgh did enough to address the position this spring.

First, let’s address the losses. All three of the team’s top contributors at inside linebacker departed in free agency in the offseason. Myles Jack was heading into the second year of the two-year contract he had signed to join the Steelers last year, but the team, instead, decided to release the veteran linebacker to open up about $8MM of cap space. After being allowed to test his market in free agency, Devin Bush signed a one-year contract in Seattle. Lastly, Robert Spillane, who served as a spot starter and factored heavily into the defensive rotation last year, also found his way to free agency, departing for Las Vegas.

That left three holes atop the roster at inside linebacker, including two starting spots. For one spot, the team signed former Commanders linebacker Cole Holcomb. A fifth-round pick for Washington back in 2019, Holcomb was an immediate starter as a rookie. This wasn’t the first time that Holcomb had surpassed expectations as, in college, he earned a scholarship after initially walking on at North Carolina. He’s now started 48 of the 50 games he’s appeared in, but injuries have kept him from appearing in a possible 16 additional games. Most crucially, he missed 10 games in 2022 due to a knee injury in November and foot surgery that ended his season in December. If healthy, though, Holcomb can certainly perform as the team’s top linebacker. His best season saw him rank as the league’s 23rd best linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), in 2020, and despite his injuries, he ranked 35th in 2022.

Another spot was filled by former Patriots and Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts. An eighth-year veteran, Roberts had a bit of a breakout year in 2022. After seeing his role diminish over his final years with the Patriots, Roberts found a way to improve over each season in Miami. Finally starting in every game of the season in 2022, Roberts recorded career-highs in total tackles (107), tackles for loss (10), and sacks (4.5) and tied a career-high in quarterback hits (6). He’s never graded out highly by PFF standards as a full-service linebacker, but last year, Roberts topped all NFL linebackers with an 89.2 pass rushing grade.

Pittsburgh is planning on filling the third hole internally by putting more responsibility on the shoulders of Mark Robinson to fill Spillane’s role from last year. A seventh-round pick for the team in 2022, Robinson only appeared in four games last season, making two starts in the final two games of the year. The Steelers have taken their time with Robinson, who had only played one season at linebacker in college after switching from running back. The team seems confident in Robinson’s ability to step up in Year 2. They relied on him last year in the team’s last two games against the Ravens and Browns, two run-heavy teams, and he may play a similar role this year.

For depth at inside linebacker, the team brought in Nick Kwiatkoski and Tanner Muse. Kwiatkoski has past experience as a full-time starter but hasn’t started a game since the 2020 season. Muse is primarily a special teamer.

So, did the Steelers do enough to address the losses at the position? It may be too soon to say whether they’ve successfully filled the holes in the roster. They did a lot, and the holes are filled, but whether they’ve been filled effectively has yet to be determined. Kaboly does think that the team has done enough to at least satisfy the demands of the roster. He doesn’t believe that the team will continue to pursue Kwon Alexander or other free agents, barring injury to the three players above. Unless Holcomb, Roberts, and Robinson make it clear that they can’t handle the duties of the position, Kaboly believes that “the 90 they have is the 90 they will bring to camp.”

Steelers Sign LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Nick Kwiatkoski‘s minicamp audition with the Steelers will lead to an agreement. The Pittsburgh-area native agreed to terms with his hometown team Tuesday, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).

The veteran linebacker will head back to Pennsylvania after spending the 2022 season in Atlanta. Kwiatkoski joins Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts as veteran linebackers added to the Steelers’ equation this offseason. It is a one-year deal, according to’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter).

This marks the third Kwiatkoski contract agreement in four years, though the West Virginia alum also agreed to multiple Raiders restructures. The Raiders signed the former Bears part-time starter to a three-year, $21MM deal in 2020, but after the team cut bait in 2022, worse terms awaited from the Falcons. But Atlanta still afforded an opportunity — on a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum. Considering this is a June addition after a minicamp tryout, Kwiatkoski’s Steelers terms are likely similar to what he received from the Falcons.

Drafted in the 2016 fourth round by the Bears a month after their Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman signings, Kwiatkoski ended up moving into Chicago’s starting lineup frequently over his first two seasons. He started 13 games from 2016-17, and even after the Bears made Roquan Smith a top-10 pick in 2018, they still needed Kwiatkoski for eight starts during his 2019 contract year. He parlayed that into the Raiders accord, with the Silver and Black signing he and Cory Littleton in March 2020. Neither deal worked out, and both off-ball ‘backers were gone as the Dave ZieglerJosh McDaniels regime took over last year.

Kwiatkoski, 30, played 12 Falcons games last season, working mostly as a special-teamer. He logged 228 special teams snaps, marking his third season with at least 200 ST plays. While Kwiatkoski has started 34 career games, he profiles as a depth piece in Pittsburgh. The Bethel Park High alum joins offseason addition Tanner Muse and 2022 seventh-round pick Mark Robinson as the Steelers’ top non-Holcomb and Roberts options. Depth could be key here, with Holcomb coming off a December foot surgery.

Additionally, the Steelers released wide receiver Anthony Miller. A former Kwiatkoski Bears teammate whom the team chose in the 2018 second round, Miller has been unable to find his NFL footing since a promising 2019 season (656 receiving yards). The Bears traded Miller to the Texans in July 2021, but Houston waived him soon after. The Jaguars and Steelers took subsequent fliers later that year, and Miller ended up sticking with Pittsburgh for a bit. But he only played in one game with the Steelers. The ex-Chicago slot suffered a shoulder injury while competing for a Steelers job in training camp last year and spent the season on IR.

Steelers Auditioning LB Nick Kwiatkoski

The Steelers have made major changes to their off-ball linebacking corps this offseason, overhauling the group by signing Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. Gone are Myles Jack, Devin Bush and Robert Spillane.

Another veteran addition is on Pittsburgh’s radar. Nick Kwiatkoski, a Pittsburgh-area native, is at the Steelers’ minicamp for a workout, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. A seven-year veteran, Kwiatkoski spent last season with the Falcons.

Operating as a backup and a starter during a career spent in Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta, Kwiatkoski has played 89 career games and made 34 starts. He played in 12 games with the Falcons last season but did not start any. The former fourth-round Bears pick last started during the 2020 season, his first on a three-year, $21MM Raiders deal. Kwiatkoski started eight games for the Bears in 2019 and was a first-stringer in 12 Raiders contests a year later. The Raiders released the West Virginia alum in 2022.

The 30-year-old linebacker already auditioned for the Titans this offseason, but Tennessee ended up signing Ben Niemann from that workout. The Steelers released Jack after one year and let Bush walk in free agency, wrapping the former first-rounder’s four-year tenure. Jack remains unsigned, while the Seahawks took a flier on Bush. Despite a lower pedigree by comparison, Spillane made out better by signing a two-year, $7MM Raiders deal that included just more than $3MM guaranteed.

Pittsburgh gave Holcomb a three-year, $18MM deal, though that pact includes just less than $5MM locked in. Roberts’ contract resembles Spillane’s, with Pittsburgh adding the ex-New England and Miami linebacker for two years and $7MM ($2.3MM guaranteed). Behind those two ‘backers are Tanner Muse and 2022 seventh-round pick Mark Robinson. With the Steelers not drafting an off-ball ‘backer, an opening could exist for Kwiatkoski to join his hometown team.

Titans Sign LB Ben Niemann

Ben Niemann‘s June Cardinals signing last year led to considerable playing time. After a season in Arizona, the former Kansas City UDFA will end up in Tennessee.

The Titans and Niemann agreed to terms Monday. This is likely a low-cost accord, but Niemann will have a chance to compete for a job on Mike Vrabel‘s team soon. The Titans began their offseason workouts today.

Despite being a mid-June Cardinals addition, Niemann ended up starting nine games for the struggling team. The nine starts marked a career-high total for Niemann, who spent four seasons with the Chiefs but did not generate much interest in free agency last year. Niemann, 27, will join a Titans team in transition at linebacker.

Tennessee moved on from both David Long and Zach Cunningham this offseason, releasing Cunningham and letting Long sign with the Dolphins on just a two-year, $11MM deal. New Titans GM Ran Carthon added ex-49ers starter Azeez Al-Shaair on a one-year, $5MM pact. The former Fred WarnerDre Greenlaw sidekick should be expected to anchor Tennessee’s linebacking corps, which did not have Long or Cunningham available too often last season.

The team should also be viewed as a candidate to draft a linebacker fairly early this year, but Niemann will have an opportunity to join Al-Shaair and 2021 third-round pick Monty Rice as a regular. Cunningham remains unsigned.

An Iowa product, Niemann tallied a career-high 70 tackles last season; Pro Football Focus viewed his part-time work as effective. The advanced metrics site graded Niemann just inside the top 30 among off-ball linebackers last season, grading his 2022 as far better than his Chiefs seasons. Niemann, who has six career fumble recoveries, started 12 games with the Chiefs from 2018-21.

Prior to signing Niemann, the Titans worked out he and two other linebackers. Nick Kwiatkoski and ex-Niemann Cardinals teammate Tanner Vallejo auditioned for the Titans, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. Vallejo, 28, started five Cardinals games last season. After his Raiders release, Kwiatkoski, 29, spent the season with the Falcons; he played in 12 games with no starts in 2022.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/1/22

Teams continue to tinker with their rosters after hundreds of players were cut earlier this week. We’ve tracked all of today’s minor moves below:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Falcons Place LB Deion Jones, CB Isaiah Oliver On IR

The Falcons removed Deion Jones from their active/PUP list last week, but the veteran linebacker will still miss the season’s first four games. Atlanta placed Jones on IR Thursday.

This turned out to be part of a bigger Atlanta IR shift. In addition to the Jones placement, the Falcons moved cornerback Isaiah Oliver, defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield and tight end John FitzPatrick to IR. All are now ineligible through Week 4.

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With one of the free roster spots, the Falcons brought back linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. The team had included the former Bears and Raiders defender among its Tuesday cuts. Atlanta also re-signed defensive lineman Abdullah Anderson and offensive lineman Colby Gossett.

Linked in trade rumors for months, Jones underwent shoulder surgery in May to quiet those. He did not return to practice until late August. The seventh-year defender is set to count for a Falcons-most $20MM against the 2022 cap. The team added Kwiatkoski, former Dean Pees Titans charge Rashaan Evans and second-rounder Troy Andersen at the position — one also housing third-year cog Mykal Walker — this offseason. That and the Falcons having moved on from most of their Super Bowl LI nucleus, as they attempt to rebuild, has naturally inserted Jones’ name into departure rumors.

It should not be completely ruled out Jones could be dealt by the Nov. 1 deadline, but Thursday’s transaction — continuing an injury hiatus into the season — further complicates that status.

Oliver went down with a season-ending knee injury in October of last year. Despite that, the former second-round pick re-signed with the Falcons on a one-year, $2.39MM deal. A 33-game Falcons starter, Oliver will have missed at least a year of football by the time he is able to return. Davidson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last month. Mayfield lost his right guard job to journeyman Elijah Wilkinson during camp.

Falcons Reduce Roster To 53

With the deadline for teams to cut their rosters down to 53 players minutes away, the Falcons are the latest team to announce how they got there. Here are the moves Atlanta made to set its roster:




A few of Atlanta’s offseason additions are no longer with the team. Former Arthur Smith Titans charges Firkser and Pruitt — each of whom being with Tennessee during the current Atlanta HC’s run as Titans tight ends coach — leave a young tight end group. It would not surprise if one of the two — if not both — were back, via a belated active-roster return or practice squad stash. The Falcons currently have Kyle Pitts, 2021 UDFA Parker Hesse and sixth-round rookie John FitzPatrick at tight end.

The team also signed Kwiatkoski this offseason, bringing him in along with a few ILB investments. But the former Bears and Raiders starter/depth piece is back in free agency. The Falcons still have Deion Jones rostered, despite trade rumors, and have former first-round Titans pick Rashaan Evans in place as well. The team also drafted Troy Andersen in Round 2 this year.

Falcons To Sign LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Nick Kwiatkoski met with the Falcons last week and huddled up with the Raiders’ new staff this week. The former Bears and Raiders linebacker is going with his first visit.

The Falcons are signing Kwiatkoski to a one-year deal, Tom Pelissero of tweets. This will reunite Kwiatkoski with former Bears GM Ryan Pace, who joined the Falcons’ front office this offseason. The then-Pace-run Bears used a fourth-round pick on Kwiatkoski in 2016.

Given a three-year, $21MM deal in 2020, Kwiatkoski worked as a Raiders starter that year but operated as a depth piece last season. The Raiders added multiple new pieces on their defensive second level, one that already included fellow 2020 signing Cory Littleton, and Kwiatkoski did not start any games in 2021. With the Raiders transitioning from their Jon GrudenMike Mayock power structure, it led Kwiatkoski back to free agency. Las Vegas’ new regime cut Kwiatkoski and Littleton this offseason, though it showed interest in reuniting with the former. Littleton signed with the Panthers.

Atlanta has addressed its off-ball linebacker spots extensively this offseason, signing ex-Titans starter Rashaan Evans and using a second-round pick on Troy Anderson. Although the team is in the early stages of a rebuild, it still rosters highly paid inside ‘backer Deion Jones. Kwiatkoski, 29 this month, stands to represent depth, at worst, for the Falcons. He made 81 tackles in 2020 and has started 34 career games.

Raiders Host Nick Kwiatkoski

Nick Kwiatkoski was thought to be on his way out of Las Vegas, but a re-signing could still be a possibility. The Raiders hosted the veteran linebacker yesterday, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

The 29-year-old was released by the Raiders at the beginning of free agency. That brought an end to his two-year tenure with the team – at least, under the contract he signed in 2020, which was restructured twice. As a result of cutting Kwiatkoski, the Raiders created $5MM in dead money.

The team is apparently willing to bring him back at a reduced rate, given this news. In his first year in Vegas, the former fourth rounder took on the largest workload of his career, starting all 12 games he played in. He registered a career-high 81 tackles, adding an interception and four pass breakups. An ankle injury limited him to just eight games in 2021, though.

Kwiatkoski’s first free agent visit was with the Falcons last week. The team’s front office would have some familiarity with him, as recent hire Ryan Pace was the general manager in Chicago when the Bears drafted Kwiatkoski in 2016. However, it was reported at the time that the meeting with Atlanta was the first of multiple sit-downs; on that point, Pelissero adds that Kwiatkoski “has at least one more visit scheduled”. By the end of that third meeting, it may become clearer where he will ultimately land.