The Steelers put in a waiver claim on former New York tight end Jordan Leggett this week, only to lose out to a better claim by the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.
Five times placed a claim on Leggett, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end out of Clemson that New York selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Leggett missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, but bounced back in 2018 to make four starts. He finished with 14 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Field Yates of ESPN reported that the Steelers, Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans all placed claims after the Jets unexpectedly cut Leggett on Monday. Tampa Bay won the claim because the Bucs had the worst record of the five teams during the 2018 season.
Source: the Buccaneers, Bills, Packers, Steelers and Titans all placed a claim on former Jets TE Jordan Leggett. Tampa Bay landed Leggett because it had highest waiver wire order priority.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 22, 2019
The Steelers were reportedly interested in Leggett coming out of Clemson, and made the move to try to secure another tight end with experience for training camp. Fifth-round draft pick Zach Gentry and first-year players Kevin Rader and Christian Scotland-Williamson are the team’s only options behind returning starter Vance McDonald and backup Xavier Grimble.
The number of claims and the relatively successful teams like the Packers and Steelers making claims will certainly bring skepticism to the decision-making process for Jets coach Adam Gase, who has come under fire before ever coaching a game.
Gase also fired longtime scout Bill Duracker on Tuesday as he continues to consolidate his power within the club after coming out on top of a struggle with former general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was fired on May 15.
Speaking with NFL.com on Monday, Gase disputed that characterization.
“I disagree with that, as far as a power struggle,” Gase said. “Because whoever is getting hired is going to have the same role — control of the roster. I will coach the football team. That’s what I’m going to do. Nothing is changing in that structure.”
Gates was fired on Dec. 31 after a 23-25 record over three seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Maccagnan hired Gase on Jan. 11.
Report: Steelers Restructure Contract of DL Cam Heyward
The Steelers have restructured the contract of veteran defensive lineman Cam Heyward, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Heyward is entering the first season of a four-year, $71.4 million contact extension that he signed last September.
His contract calls for a $4.5 million salary and a $6 million roster bonus for the 2021 season, along with $4.05 million of prorated signing bonus for a total salary cap hit of $14.55 million.
With a full restructure, all of Heyward’s roster bonus and his salary for 2021, save for the $1.075 veteran minimum, will be converted into a signing bonus, paid out now and spread out of the four years of the contract for salary cap purposes.
That will make Heyward’s salary cap hit for 2021 $7.481 million, a savings of nearly $7 million.
Heyward is one of only a couple players the Steelers can restructure this offseason, along with fellow defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt and kicker Chris Bowell. The team is not expected to be able to get under the salary cap with restructures alone, and releasing or extending players may also be required.
Heyward, 31, started 15 games for the Steelers in 2020, recording 54 tackles, seven for a loss and four sacks. He also had 19 quarterback hits, three passes defended and an interception.
After the season, Heyward was named second-team Associated Press NFL All-Pro, the third time in his career he’s been named an All-Pro player. He was also selected to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl, the fourth straight season he was elected to play in that game.
Steelers Sign OT Aviante Collins to Future Contract
The Steelers have signed free agent tackle Aviante Collins to a future contract for the 2021 season, the team announced on Tuesday.
Collins, 27, visited with the Steelers on Jan. 22. He spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings after joining that team as an undrafted free agent out of TCU in 2017.
Collins played in three games in 2017 and two in 2019 for the Vikings, and spent all of the 2020 season on the practice squad, except for a one-week elevation in Week 11, in which he did not play.
The 6-foot-4, 292-pound tackle its a free agent after the Vikings decided to allow his practice squad contract to expire at the end of the season.
The Steelers have several free agents at the tackle position, including longtime starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, 2019 starting right tackle Matt Feiler and 2020 starting right tackle Zach Banner and backup Jerald Hawkins.
The Steelers have 2020 starting right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor under contract and Anthony Coyle, Jarron Jones, John Leglue and Brandon Walton signed to futures contract.
Former Steelers QB Devlin Hodges Signs with LA Rams
Former Steelers starting quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges has signed a future contract with the Los Angeles Rams for the 2021 season, he announced on Twitter on Sunday.
— Devlin Hodges (@DevlinHodges10) January 24, 2021
Hodges signed with the Steelers in 2019 on a rookie camp tryout out of Samford. He earned a contract at rookie camp and impressed in training camp, causing the team to feel comfortable trading third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs to Jacksonville.
After injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, Hodges was pushing into service, playing in eight games and starting six for the team in 2019.
Hodges threw for 1,063 yards while completing 62.5% of his passes. He threw for five touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 71.4 quarterback rating. The Steelers went 3-3 in games Hodges started.
After the Steelers re-acquired Josh Dobbs in the 2020 offseason, Hodges was bumped to fourth on the team’s depth chart and was not activated at any point during the 2020 season.
The Steelers replaced Hodges by signing former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins to a reserve/future contract last week.
Hodges, wide receiver Deon Cain, running back Wendell Smallwood and kicker Matthew Wright were the only four players that finished the season on the Steelers’ practice squad that were not retained by the team.