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Steelers Re-Sign WR Saeed Blacknall, Cut LB James Lockhart

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The Steelers have re-signed wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and released linebacker James Lockhart, the team announced on Friday.

Blacknall, 24, originally signed with the Steelers in April, but was released last week when the team signed fellow wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud. The Steelers took the somewhat unusual step of giving the just-released Blacknall a tryout workout earlier this week before re-signing the former Penn State product.

Blacknall’s re-signing comes one day after the Steelers waived/injured wide receiver Anthony Johnson, who suffered a knee injury in practice on Monday.

Before joining the Steelers this spring, Blacknall played with the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL, catching four passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. At Penn State, Blacknall caught 50 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns before signing as an undrafted free agents with the Oakland Raiders in 2018. He has also spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Lockhart (49) trains at Heinz Field during the Steelers 2020 Training Camp, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

Lockhart signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in April. The 6-foot-2, 263-pound Baylor grad had been working as an outside linebacker, but the team added experienced veteran Jayrone Elliott to that position group on Friday.

With the pair of moves, the team’s roster remains at the 80-man limit.

Steelers Transactions

Report: Steelers Restructure Contract of DL Cam Heyward

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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.

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Steelers Transactions

Steelers Sign OT Aviante Collins to Future Contract

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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.

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Steelers Transactions

Former Steelers QB Devlin Hodges Signs with LA Rams

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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.

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.

Cain has signed with the Baltimore Ravens, while Wright has inked a contract to join then Detroit Lions.

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