The Steelers have had a fullback on the roster for as long as I can remember. However, with fullbacks being used so sparingly, is Roosevelt Nix worth a roster spot?
The Pittsburgh Steelers used to be a smash-mouth football team. They would pride themselves with a fantastic defense, and would run the ball down the throats of the opposing team.
However, in the modern football era, things have changed in a pretty big way. In 2004 and 2005, the Steelers led the NFL in rushing percentage – choosing to run the ball 60.8 percent and 57.4 percent, respectively, according to Team Rankings.
With great quarterback play and brilliant offensive schemes, gone are the days where teams can get away with running the ball 55-60 percent of the time.
In fact, last year was quite the opposite. The Steelers ran a record low 32.6 percent of the time. This isn’t to say that they should have ignored the run this much, but fullbacks are quickly becoming a dying breed in today’s NFL.
This begs the question: with as little as the Steelers have been using the ground game, does Roosevelt Nix deserve a spot on the Steelers 53-man roster?
Nix has been on the Steelers for the past four seasons, and even earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2017. Pittsburgh also handed the fullback a contract extension that has him locked up through 2021.
However, Roosevelt Nix played just 9.86 percent of offensive snaps for the Steelers last year. In other words, he was used less than 1 out of every 10 plays. When Nix does see the field, he’s often a non-factor.
To put that into perspective, Xavier Grimble (the Steelers 3rd tight end in 2018) played 15.6 percent of offensive snaps, and James Washington (Pittsburgh’s 3rd receiver) played 47.1 percent of snaps.
The fullback position in the NFL is quickly becoming extinct, and Roosevelt Nix is no exception.
It’s really not hard to see why. Roosevelt Nix is a very good run blocker, but as a receiver and rusher, he really offers nothing to the team.
Nix has just 10 catches and 4 total rushes in 4 seasons with the Steelers. Many teams have replaced the fullback altogether with a ‘move’ tight end (typically a smaller tight end that can line up all over the formation). These tight ends offer much more versatility, and are still capable blockers – diminishing the need to carry a fullback on the roster.
Nix is a solid special teams player (which may be the reason he is sticking around), but as little as the Steelers use him on offense, he is a player that has become expendable to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have a decision to make with Nix this year. His contract numbers are very reasonable, so perhaps they will keep him around for the sake of special teams value. However, those final spots on the 53-man roster are valuable. More than likely, Nix isn’t going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that he is deserving of a roster spot in 2019.