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‘I Truly Just Want a Chance’: Hakeem Butler’s Unlikely Path to the Steelers



Steelers Hakeem Butler

Hakeem Butler took the long road to get back to the NFL. In other words, this trip back to the NFL sent Butler through hoops in order to just get a tryout. But after signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, Butler is finally back in the NFL and will have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot.

Butler was picked by the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. One year after the Cardinals picked Butler, they handed him his walking papers. Butler then bounced around in 2020 to the Panthers and Eagles, even trying to convert to tight end. Still, nothing went for Butler.

He explored the CFL in 2022 after taking 2021 off completely. The British Columbia Lions and Edmonton Elks offered him opportunities but he never suited up for a game for either team. So, when the XFL decided to pop back up, Butler wanted to get in on it. However, he never got into the draft pool and when the XFL rosters were filling up, he looked for an in to get a tryout anyway he could.

So, in November, Butler slid into the Twitter DMs of St. Louis Battlehawks head coach Anthony Becht looking for help. He asked Becht for help and for contact information on who to reach out to for a tryout. Instead, it seems like Becht said that Butler did not have to go far. He would end up signing with the team, and for Butler, it was history from there.

“Good morning coach. I know the draft has passed for the XFL and teams may soon be filling if they aren’t already filled but I was wondering who to contact or how to go about possibly getting a roster/camp opportunity just to show what I can do,” Butler sent to Becht. “Any information at all would be great. I truly just want a chance to show I can play, which I know I can compete at the highest level. I want to thank you in advance for anything you do.”

Now, having led the XFL in receiving touchdowns and proven his ability, Butler is back in the NFL for the first time in 3 seasons. There are plenty of slot receivers on the Steelers’ roster. But Hakeem Butler has elite size that no one else in the room can boast, and more importantly, he has a hunger to make the roster.