After a strong offseason, Donte Moncrief quickly lost his job as the Steelers’ No. 2 wide receiver. Weeks after his demotion, Moncrief will now be on the waiver wire.
The Steelers will part ways with the veteran wideout, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although Moncrief is a vested vet, all players cut after the trade deadline head to waivers. Running back Tony Brooks-James will take Moncrief’s roster spot.
Moncrief signed a two-year, $9MM deal in March and was then believed to be Pittsburgh’s top supporting-caster in its post-Antonio Brown receiving corps. The signing did not work out. The former third-round pick dropped several passes in his first two games as a Steeler, with a drop against the Seahawks in Week 2 leading to a demotion.
Rookie Diontae Johnson has since stepped into the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver role, with second-year player James Washington filling in alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster as well. This release will tag the Steelers with a seven-figure dead-money hit, but it obviously pales in comparison to the cap penalty the Brown trade brought.
This move stands to benefit the Steelers’ 2020 draft haul as well, with Moncrief’s departure set to balance out the franchise’s compensatory formula. Similar to the Ravens’ release of Justin Bethel, the Steelers’ Moncrief decision will give the Steelers a comp pick next year. Only in this case, Pittsburgh is expected to gain a third-rounder from the Jets’ Le’Veon Bell signing. Moncrief needed to be on the Steelers’ roster for 10 games to cost the team that compensatory slot. This stands to help a Steelers team that traded its 2020 third-rounder to the Broncos in the Devin Bush deal.
Saturday’s transaction marks another setback for a once-promising wideout. Moncrief, 26, showed flashes early in his Colts run, hauling in 13 touchdowns between the 2015-16 seasons. He also finished with 668 receiving yards last season, despite catching passes from Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. As a Steeler, Moncrief caught four passes for 18 yards.
Brooks-James will help patch up a Steelers running back corps that is without Benny Snell and is expected to be without starter James Conner. The latter is doubtful to face the Colts on Sunday due to a shoulder injury.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.