Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. has cleared waivers after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, according to the NFL transaction report for Friday.
McFarland, the team’s No. 4 running back, was cut loose so that the team could make room for necessary roster moves on defense, including reinstating safety Elijah Riley from the injured reserve list and promoting linebacker Kyron Johnson to the 53-man roster.
McFarland, 24, has played in three games this season and caught two passes for 11 yards. He also started the season as the team’s primary kickoff returner, averaging 27.3 yards per return on six kicks.
But after a knee injury sidelined him for a significant portion of the season, McFarland was unable to win that job back from Godwin Igwebuike, a safety-turned-running back that has also been a positive contributor on coverage units. Igwebuike has averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return.
Igwebuike is now the only backup behind co-starters Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren on the 53-man roster, and the Steelers do not currently have a running back on their practice squad.
With McFarland clearing waivers, and the team holding a vacant spot on their practice squad, it’s possible that he could re-join the team for next week.
\The Steelers’ fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, McFarland has been with the club his entire career, but he has been released before. He was waived coming out of training camp in 2022, was re-signed to the practice squad, and spent that entire season on that unit before returning for 2023.