Penn Hills football alum among Steelers' first-round roster cuts
Andre Freeman, 23, got the call he'd been waiting for in May, when the Steelers contacted him on his birthday to invite him to the final day of their rookie mini-camp. It was his chance to fight for a spot on the final roster of the team he grew up supporting.
For now, however, that will have to wait.
Freeman was among the first-round cuts announced by the Steelers on Aug. 28. NFL teams must trim their rosters down to the 53-man limit by Friday and Freeman, a Penn Hills native and cornerback, was one of the players cut to get the roster down to 75.
Freeman said he received a phone call the night before, and on Aug. 28 was officially informed he'd been cut by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.
While he was initially focused on the athletic side of things, Freeman said he understands that the NFL is a business.
“It doesn't really matter how much you think the coaches like you,” he said. “It's really about who they think is going to bring them more money.”
Freeman said he was told the Steelers might call him back at some point to place him on the practice squad.
“Basically, though, at this point, it's too late to make a 53-man roster unless someone gets hurt.
“That happens every day, though,” he said.
Freeman will be able to take away valuable in-game experience as well. Even though it was the preseason, he was on the field in three NFL games.
“The first game, I played the whole fourth quarter, but didn't do all that well. I missed a tackle,” he said. “The second game, I did better, but I only played for about 10 minutes.”
In the third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Freeman was only in for four plays, but was looking forward to the final warm-up against the Carolina Panthers.
“(In the third game), I broke up a pass, and I'm like, ‘All right, the fourth game is where the young guys play the most,' so I was looking forward to seeing what I could do in that fourth game. (Getting cut) was a surprise,” he said.
While it is certainly a letdown to be cut from his hometown team, Freeman said things are not all bad.
“I'm not really bummed about it. It's hard to make the Steelers,” he said. “The Steelers are the best team in the whole world. Last year, they were the No. 1 overall defense. … I'm just ready for the next opportunity.”
For now, Freeman can count himself among the nation's recent college-graduate job-seekers. But while most graduates are polishing up their resumes, Freeman is hoping to get another phone call.
“Right now it's more about the money,” he said. “I had a fantastic experience with the Steelers, but now it's about finding a job. It could be the Cowboys, some other team. I don't really want to play for the Ravens, but hey, if they call and want to pay me? I'll play.”
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.