The Pittsburgh Steelers have re-signed running back Anthony McFarland Jr., defensive tackle Renell Wren and inside linebacker Chappelle Russell to reserve/future contracts for the 2023 season, the team announced on Thursday.
McFarland was the team’s fourth-round draft pick out of Maryland in the 2020 NFL Draft and spent the entire 2022 season on the Steelers’ practice squad after getting beaten out for a job in training camp by undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren.
The Steelers called on McFarland just once to contribute this season, and he had a solid game in Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts, rushing six times for 30 yards and catching two passes on two targets for 11 yards.
McFarland had a promising rookie season in 2020, when he ran for 113 yards on 33 carries and caught six passes for 54 yards. But an MCL sprain in training camp derailed his second season, and he played in just two games in 2022.
Looking forward to 2023, McFarland has a chance to move up the Steelers’ running back pecking order, as current No. 3 Benny Snell is set to become a free agent in March.
Wren joined the Steelers practice squad before the season started on Sept. 2, after having been with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the offseason. A former fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, Wren had played in 12 games over his first two seasons with Cincinnati before heading to Philadelphia last offseason.
With the Steelers, Wren waited his turn, and was finally called up to the active roster for the final two games of the regular season. He played just one snap over those two games, however.
With Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormely all set to become free agents, Wren gives the Steelers some experienced depth at defensive tackle ahead of the 2023 season.
Russell spent all of his third professional season on the Steelers’ practice squad in 2022. He had sent 2020 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2021 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, played in 27 games before arriving in Pittsburgh.
But despite injuries to both starters Devin Bush and Myles Jack and backup Marcus Allen this season, the Steelers never called upon Russell to do more than run the practice squad.
Bush, Allen and Robert Spillane are all set to become unrestricted free agents, so inside linebacker is another position where the Steelers could be short on depth this spring.