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Steelers Analysis

Five UFL Players the Steelers Should Sign

With the end of the 2024 UFL season, here’s five players from that league the Pittsburgh Steelers should look to sign.

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Pittsburgh Steelers UFL Breeland Speaks
Michigan Panthers edge rusher Breeland Speaks vs. Houston Roughnecks Rice Stadium Houston. -- 2C2K Photography

The 2024 UFL season ended on Sunday, with the Birmingham Stallions winning their third championship in as many seasons. With the close of the spring football season, many players that have been suiting up in the UFL will soon be invading NFL 90-man rosters, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have been a team that has been active in adding players from spring pro leagues in recent seasons.

Last offseason, the Steelers added wide receiver Hakeem Butler, running back John Lovett and cornerback Luq Barcoo from the XFL and cornerback Nevelle Clarke from the USFL, among others. Will they search for another diamond in the rough coming out of this UFL season?

If Omar Khan is so inclined, here’s five former UFL players that could make sense for the Steelers to take a look at:

EDGE Breeland Speaks, Michigan Panthers

A former second-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, Breeland Speaks is finally living up to his potential. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound edge rusher had his NFL career waylaid by injuries and a suspension. He seems to have found a home with the Michigan Panthers in the UFL, though.

Speaks had nine sacks in 10 games last spring, when Michigan was in the USFL. This year, he put up 9.5 sacks to lead the newly formed UFL in sacks. He was also tops in tackles for loss with 13 and had a forced fumble and two pass breakups.

Speaks got an NFL shot last summer, but only a short one. He was added mid-training camp by the San Francisco 49ers and was released 16 days later, without catching on with another team. He played in three preseason games and recorded four tackles.

The Steelers don’t have a lot of experienced depth at outside linebacker behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, with a pair of second-year players in Nick Herbig and Jeremiah Moon currently holding down the third and fourth spots. Speaks could be a quality option to add to that competition.

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Carlos Davis

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Carlos Davis in a game against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 15, 2021. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

DT Carlos Davis, Birmingham Stallions

Carlos Davis is certainly no stranger to the Steelers. Their seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Davis spent three seasons in Pittsburgh to start his career.

Davis had one career sack over 12 career games with the Steelers, and was always seen as more of a run-stuffer, but he seems to have developed some pass-rush prowess. Davis had six sacks for the Stallions this season on their way to a UFL title, the most he’s ever had in a season in his professional or college career.

The Steelers have a number of options on the borderline of their roster along the defensive line, but relatively few of them have solid pass rush chops. If Davis could provide that at the NFL level, he’d be worth taking a look at again.

WR/KR Chris Rowland, DC Defenders

An undersized wide receiver at 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, Chris Rowland was the USFL’s best kickoff returner in 2024, and even though the spring league didn’t use the new NFL kickoff rule, depth at returner could be awfully important this season.

The Steelers have a former All-Pro in place in Cordarrelle Patterson to be their kickoff returner, but Patterson is 33 and hasn’t played a fully healthy season since 2020. The Steelers don’t have a lot of kickoff return experience on their roster, so someone like Rowland to be a backup during training camp and the preseason, and potentially a practice squad player, could make a lot of sense.

Rowland was also on the Atlanta Falcons when Arthur Smith took over as head coach there in 2021, so he should be at least somewhat familiar with the offensive scheme.

Steelers WR Tyler Vaughns

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Tyler Vaughns in a preseason game on Aug. 13, 2022. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

WR Tyler Vaughns, Arlington Renegades

Another familiar face to the Steelers, Tyler Vaughns has been playing for the Arlington Renegades since he was released by the Steelers in 2022. He had a solid spring in 2023, playing in nine games and catching 31 passes for 302 yards. This spring, he was even better, catching 45 balls for 503 yards and three touchdowns.

Unlike a lot of the receivers at the UFL level, Vaughns has NFL size at 6-foot-2, 184 pounds, and Vaughns was a strong preseason performer the last time he was in Pittsburgh. He’s worthy of another shot in the league somewhere, and the Steelers could use a spark at wide receiver.

OT Matt Kaskey, Birmingham Stallions

Matt Kaskey is a 6-foot-7, 325-pound offensive tackle that was the best run-blocking tackle in the UFL this year, according to PFF. He also has played some guard over the years, but where the Steelers could use an upgrade is to the end of their tackle rotation, in case the team decides that Dan Moore Jr. is worth trading. 
It’d be a big step up for Dylan Cook to be the swing tackle, and some competition for Devery Hamilton to be the fourth tackle in that scenario would be a good thing.

Kaskey spent three seasons with the Carolina Panthers from 2019-21, but played in just one game, and was with the Los Angeles Chargers for a month last summer.