Steelers cut backup QB Landry Jones; Joshua Dobbs makes team
Landry Jones had game experience and familiarity running the offense on his side. It wasn’t enough to keep his job as backup quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jones was the biggest name let go by the Steelers on Saturday afternoon as they reduced their roster to 53 players.
The fifth-year veteran had his contract terminated as the Steelers decided to go with second-year player Joshua Dobbs and rookie Mason Rudolph as the backups to Ben Roethlisberger. Jones had served that role since the middle of the 2015 season.
As a vested veteran, Jones doesn’t have to clear waivers and immediately becomes a free agent. Jones was scheduled to make $1.9 million this season, the last of his two-year deal with the team. It’s conceivable the Steelers could try to re-sign him.
Safety Nat Berhe, signed as a free agent in March, also had his contract terminated as a vested veteran.
Berhe, however, also could be back with the Steelers soon, which he indicated on his verified Twitter account.
“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” Berhe wrote Saturday afternoon.
Running back Le’Veon Bell is not included on the 53-man roster because he has not signed his $14.54 million franchise-tag tender. The Steelers could apply for a two-week roster exemption like they did last season when they activated Bell on the eve of the season opener.
Jones, 29, didn’t play much during the preseason, appearing in the first and third games. He completed 10 of 13 attempts for 127 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Jones appeared in 19 games over his five seasons with the Steelers, mostly in mop-up duty. He won the backup job in 2015 from Mike Vick, was 3-2 as a starter and defeated the Cleveland Browns in the regular-season finale the past two seasons. He had a 63.9 percent completion percentage and passed for 1,310 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in his tenure with the Steelers.
In interviews during training camp, Jones never talked like a player who was secure with his spot on the roster.
“Every year, as a backup they’re going to bring in someone to replace you. That’s just a part of it,” Jones said in August. “They’re always trying to replace the backup, always trying to improve on the backup. Until you have that franchise quarterback, like we have here with Ben, they’re always going to try to improve the quarterback room.”
The Steelers will enter the season without a proven backup for the first time in Mike Tomlin’s 12 seasons as coach. They previously had established veterans Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich and Vick as options.
The Steelers drafted Rudolph in the third round this year and Dobbs in the fourth round the previous year.
When Rudolph came aboard, it seemed like the end of the line for Dobbs with the Steelers. But he played his way onto the roster with a strong preseason.
Dobbs completed 29 of 43 passes for 434 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions for a 112 passer rating in three games. In the preseason finale Thursday against Carolina, Dobbs started and led touchdown drives on the first two possessions.
“I know God has me and has a plan for me,” Dobbs said Thursday. “Hopefully, it’s here. As I’ve said, I love it here. But ultimately I know God has me. There’s always a plan in place so everything will work itself out.”
Among the other noteworthy players cut were veteran running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, seventh-round draft pick Joshua Frazier and 2017 draft picks Brian Allen and Keion Adams.
Wide receivers Marcus Tucker and Damoun Patterson were waived/injured, as were offensive lineman Joseph Cheek, linebacker Keith Kelsey and safety Malik Golden. Wide receiver Eli Rogers, who is suspended for the first week of the season, was placed on the Reserve/PUP list.
The Steelers can add 10 players to the practice squad Sunday afternoon. They have an exemption for an 11th player, tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson, a former rugby player from the United Kingdom.
A look at the Steelers’ 53-man roster:
QB (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph
RB (4): James Conner, Roosevelt Nix, Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley
WR (6): Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Justin Hunter, Ryan Switzer, Darrius Heyward-Bey
TE (3): Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble
OL (9): Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Chuks Okorafor, Zach Banner
DL (6): Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers
OLB (4): T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Ola Adeniyi
ILB (5): Vince Williams, Jon Bostic, Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas, L.J. Fort
CB (5): Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Coty Sensabaugh
S (5) Sean Davis, Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen, Jordan Dangerfield
Specialists (3): Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday
A look at the players let go by the Steelers on Saturday:
Quarterback: Landry Jones
Running back: Jarvion Franklin, James Summers, Fitzgerald Toussaint,
Wide receiver: Damoun Patterson, Marcus Tucker, Quadree Henderson, Trey Griffey, Tevin Jones,
Tight end: Bucky Hodges, Pharoah McKever, Christian Scotland-Williamson
Offensive line: Oni Omoile, Patrick Morris, Chris Schleuger, R.J. Prince, Larson Graham, Joseph Cheek, Jake Rodgers
Defensive line: Kendal Vickers, Greg Gilmore, Lavon Hooks, Parker Cothren, Casey Sayles, Joshua Frazier
Linebacker: Keith Kelsey, Farrington Huguenin, Keion Adams, Matt Galambos,
Cornerback: Malik Reaves, Jamar Summers, Dashaun Phillips, Brian Allen
Safety: Malik Golden, Nat Berhe
Punter: Matt Wile
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.