Could the one that got away end up back in the fold? Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and kicker returner Diontae Spencer will become an unrestricted free agent, as the Denver Broncos are not tendering him a contract as a restricted free agent.
Spencer spent the past three seasons as a return specialist for the Broncos. He appeared in 42 games over that span, returning 68 punts for 667 yards (9.8 ypr average) and a touchdown. He returned 47 kicks for 1008 yards, a 21.4 ypr average.
Prior to signing with the Broncos he spent the 2019 off-season signed to a reserve/future contract with the Steelers. Before that, he spent four seasons in the CFL playing for the Toronto Argonauts (2015-16) and Ottawa Redblacks (2017-18). He made the CFL East All-Star team as a returner during both his seasons with the Redblacks.
Spencer was cut by the Steelers after training camp in 2019 in order for the team to keep Ryan Switzer, who ended up catching just eight passes that season. Meanwhile, Spencer was claimed on waivers by the Broncos and remained there through the 2021 season. He was used almost exclusively as a returner, catching just 18 passes in his three seasons.
The Steelers may have a need at kick returner, as Ray-Ray McCloud is an unrestricted free agent. The offense preferred by coordinator Matt Canada also frequently makes use of wide receiver screens and sweeps, where McCloud has excelled in his time in Pittsburgh and Spencer could be equally useful.
In addition to McCloud, fellow wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington are also unrestricted free agents, though none of them has yet been tied to any teams in the free agency process. The Steelers have just Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson under contract for 2022 among the team’s regulars from last season. The Steelers have not been connected to any free agent wide receivers to this point.