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Former Steelers QB Landry Jones First to Sign in New XFL

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones is the first player to sign with the XFL in advance of its 2020 relaunch, the league announced on Thursday.

Jones, 30, was the Steelers fourth-round draft pick in 2013 and played in 19 games and made five starts for the Steelers from 2013 to 2017. He went 3-2 in his five starts and completed 63.9% of his passes for the Steelers, but lost his backup job last year to Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph.

“I’m looking forward to joining the XFL and playing the game I love,” Jones said in a press release. “I can’t wait to suit-up.”

He spent three weeks with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2018 season following an injury to Blake Bortles and spent two months with the Oakland Raiders this spring before being released on May 22.

The league, which will start play in the spring, comes in the wake of the AAF, a spring league that didn’t even make it through one season while attempting to start up in 2019. No AAF quarterback had as much NFL experience as Jones will bring to the XFL. His salary was not disclosed.

“We’re excited to welcome Landry to the XFL as our first player and first quarterback,” XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said. “He’s an accomplished athlete with outstanding college credentials and pro experience, and his heart and desire to play football epitomizes the type of individual we want in the XFL.”

The league will sign seven other quarterbacks before the teams draft out of the signed player pool this October. The league will launch with franchises in Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.

The XFL will attempt to make inroads in larger markets after the failure of the AAF, which largely relied on mid-sized cities. The folded league had teams in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego.

The original XFL lasted just one season in 2001 and was known for its innovate rules and personality driven broadcasts. Both leagues came under the auspices of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. The new league is expected to focus more on traditional football and less on innovation.

The Steelers signed several players that played in the original AAF, including safety Kameron Kelly, who appears to have an inside track on a roster spot. Offensive lineman JC Hassenauer, defensive linemen Winston Craig and Casey Sayles and linebacker J.T. Jones also played in the spring league.

Steelers

Report: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Has Told Teammates He’ll Retire

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Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates that he will retire, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Former Steelers guard Ramon Foster, now of DK Pittsburgh Sports, reported on Jan. 12 that Pouncey was “50-50” on whether he would return for the 2021 season.

The 31-year-old Pouncey just finished his 11th season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has one year remaining on his contract, which would pay him $14.475 million if he returns. Just $6.475 million of that is guaranteed. The Steelers would save $8 million in cap space if he retires.

Pouncey made the Pro Bowl for the ninth time in 2020 and has also been a five-time Associated Press All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team, largely giving him Hall of Fame credentials.\

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Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster Asks Fans to Give him Space

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JuJu Smith-Schuster is experiencing the negative side effect of living so much of his personal life in the public eye. The Steelers receiver, who is looking for a new NFL contract, took to Instagram to ask fans to leave him alone.

This stems from allegations that fans are showing up to his family home in California while he is there. Obviously, fans have no right to show up unwelcome anywhere to stalk an an athlete or celebrity, but this is just another example of the polarization of Smith-Schuster’s career. While he’s received much criticism, most notably this past season, for his sometimes over-the-top behavior and seemingly prioritizing his brand at all times, he also has many avid supporters who would stop at nothing to defend one of their favorite players.

Smith-Schuster is set to be a free agent in March for the first time in his professional career. If the Steelers should try to bring back the receiver has become a hot debate among Pittsburgh fans, so much so Smith-Schuster himself addressed the situation during a live Twitch sessions with fans.

Even Smith-Schuster’s play on the field is often up for debate. He totaled 97 receptions, but for only 831 yards with an average of just 8.6 yards per catch, which is significantly lower than his average from past seasons, including 15.8 his rookie year and 13.1 in 2019.

When it comes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, it’s always best to just stay tuned.

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Steelers’ Vance McDonald Reflects on Stiff Arm Moment, Relationship with Ben Roethlisberger

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Steelers tight end Vance McDonald spoke to the media after officially announcing his retirement from the NFL. McDonald responded to a question about the play he’s most synonymous with by saying he embraces the famous stiff arm moment. He also detailed his interaction with Ben Roethlisberger when he told his quarterback he was planning to retire.

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