The Steelers have waived elusive return specialist and wide receiver Jordan Byrd, the team announced on Tuesday.
With Byrd’s release, Pittsburgh’s return job will go to Calvin Austin III, which is not a surprise, but Byrd has the opportunity to come back to the practice squad and potentially fill in if there is an injury in the future. The Steelers have reworked their special teams units. Byrd was able to showcase what he could do as a returner in the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not break a significant return to catch enough eyes.
Byrd signed with Pittsburgh in the initial wave of undrafted free agents after the NFL Draft. He was the team’s second undrafted free agent signing following Tanner Morgan inking his deal with the team after the draft, meaning the Steelers highlighted Byrd as someone they wanted right out of the gate in the UDFA process.
Over his five years with the Aztecs, Byrd scored 1363 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 275 rushes. However, Byrd’s value is at its highest as a kick returner. In his career, Byrd has three kick return touchdowns and was named a second-team All-American in 2022 because of his return ability. In addition, he can return punts, having one touchdown off punts in his career, and he notched one each this past season at San Diego State.
He is an Albuquerque native, the same city tight end Zach Gentry hails from, and Byrd bonded with Gentry over that shared connection. Byrd is a fascinating hybrid receiver and running back player who worked primarily as a wide receiver during training camp. But standing only at 5-foot-9, he relies on his quickness and speed to pop on kickoffs and punt returns. However, he could never get ahead of guys like Austin and Gunner Olszewski.