As you’ve seen by now, the Pittsburgh Steelers have released long-time long snapper Greg Warren. His release is based on the fact he could not pass his physical. The specifics on just what it was that cost him his job are still unclear but Warren has had two significant knee injuries during his time in Pittsburgh. That ‘time’ by the way stretches back to the Bill Cowher Era. But the bigger question here pertains to sixth round draft pick Colin Holba and Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert.
In his comments following the 2017 NFL Draft, Colbert was point-blank asked if something was wrong with Greg Warren. His reply indicated there was nothing wrong with Warren and that the selection of Holba was about “bringing in some competition for Warren.” At the time, Colbert’s reply seemed more than appropriate even if the vast majority us struggled to understand why the Steelers would waste a draft pick on a long snapper.
But now however we are finding more evidence of just why Colbert and the Steelers used their sixth round pick on Holba. Until the draft’s final day there was no reason to think that Warren wouldn’t be the long snapper again in 2017. While he may be 35 years old it wasn’t like he was a linebacker or running back. His duties as a long snapper afforded a man of his age the chance to keep playing. Then today happened.
There is no way in my mind Colbert and the Steelers didn’t know this was coming. Taking long snappers in the first seven rounds of the draft happens about as often as the Browns making the playoffs. Therefore something had to be amiss and Holba’s selection was way more than just “competition.”
The most common question most of us had in the days after the draft was “why didn’t they just get one in free agency after the draft?” That question is very valid if you think Warren will be difficult to unseat. It’s less valid now. As our Ben Anderson has pointed out on the podcast, the Steelers are notoriously cheap when it comes to signing undrafted rookie free agents. With that thought in mind, there was no guarantee that Holba would have been available to them in free agency when the draft ended.
If you think Kevin Colbert lied when he said Holba was “about competition for Warren” then that’s fine. We really don’t know quite where Warren’s health was at the end of April although it’s easy to speculate now. The Steelers felt that using a draft pick on Holba was in the best interest of the team. I may disagree because I feel long snappers are a dime a dozen but to the Steelers they aren’t and that’s all that matters.