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Steelers Transactions

Steelers Sign 13 to Reserve/Future Contracts



The Steelers have signed 13 players to reserve/future contracts for the 2021 season, the team announced on Thursday.

Safety John Battle, defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, guard/tackle Anthony Coyle, wide receiver Anthony Johnson, outside linebacker/long snapper Christian Kuntz, offensive tackle John Leglue, tight end Kevin Rader, inside linebacker Tegray Scales, defensive end Calvin Taylor, punter Corliss Waitman, offensive tackle Brandon Walton, cornerback Trevor Williams and wide receiver Cody White were all re-signed for the 2021 season.

All 13 players had been on the Steelers’ practice squad during the 2020 season.

Battle, who just finished his second professional season out of LSU, spent the entire 2020 season on the Steelers practice squad after originally joining the team on a futures contract last January.

Christmas is a former sixth-round draft pick (2019) of Seattle that was released by the Seahawks on Oct. 6. The Steelers signed him to the practice squad Nov. 7, where he remained for the rest of the season.

Coyle just finished his third pro season out of Fordham. He joined the Steelers in the spring of 2020 after a stint in the XFL. He spent most of the season on the practice squad but was promoted to the active roster twice, against Baltimore in Week 12 and against Cleveland in Week 17. He did not appear in either game.

Johnson signed with the Steelers last January on a future contract after spending his first pro season in Tampa Bay and with the Los Angeles Chargers. He was injured in training camp, given an injury settlement and then re-signed to the practice squad on Oct. 26.

Kuntz, a Duquesne and Chartiers Valley alum, spent his second season with the Steelers. The fourth-year pro also has spent time with the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL. Kuntz was with the Steelers in training camp in 2019, played with the Dallas Renegades in the XFL in 2020, then re-joined the Steelers in March. He was cut on Aug. 2, then re-signed to the practice squad on Nov. 24, released Dec. 23, re-signed Dec. 29 and released again on Jan. 6.

Leglue, a second-year pro out of Tulane, was a late addition to the Steelers’ practice squad, signing with the team on Dec. 29 after spending training camp this year with the Green Bay Packers.

Rader, a Youngstown State and Pine-Richland grad, just finished his second season with the Steelers and third in the NFL. He spent almost the entire 2019 season on the practice squad and this season was elevated to the active roster for the regular season finale against Cleveland and the Wild Card game. At Cleveland, he made three special teams tackles.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Tegray Scales (40) practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex preparing for a Week 11 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

Scales joined the team mid-season after spending training camp with the club in 2019 and playing with the Dallas Renegades of the XFL in the spring of 2020. He was added to the practice squad on Nov. 11 and elevated to the active roster on Dec. 13. Scales played in four games, primarily on special teams, without recording any statistics.

Taylor, a rookie free agent from Kentucky, spent the entire 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad.

Waitman, a rookie free agent from South Alabama, also spent the entire season on the practice squad.

Walton, a Florida Atlantic grad, was originally with the Buffalo Bills as a rookie free agent, but joined the Steelers practice squad on Sept. 19 and remained there the rest of the season.

White joined the Steelers practice squad just after training camp ended on Sept. 24. He was with the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants earlier in the offseason, his first in the pro ranks out of Michigan State.

Williams was the last addition to the Steelers before the end of the season, signing with the practice squad on Jan. 6. In his fifth pro season in 2020, he also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars. Williams was with the Arizona Cardinals in 2019 and spent three seasons with the Chargers after going undrafted out of Penn State.

Six players that ended the 2020 season on the Steelers practice squad were not re-signed for 2021: wide receiver Deon Cain, quarterback Devlin Hodges, tight end Charles Jones, guard/tackle Jarron Jones, running back Wendell Smallwood and kicker Matthew Wright.

Steelers Transactions

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.

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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Steelers Transactions

Former Steelers Kicker Matthew Wright Sings with Detroit Lions



Steelers practice squad kicker Matthew Wright has signed with the Detroit Lions for the 2021 season.

Wright, who was one of four practice squad players whose contracts the Steelers allowed to expire, signed a reserve/future contract with the Lions on Friday.

Wright played in three games for the Steelers in 2020, filling in for Chris Boswell, who was injured on two separate occasions. He made 7 of 7 extra points and 4 of 4 field goals, but struggled with his depth on kickoffs.

The Steelers initially signed Wright as a rookie free agent out of UCF in 2019, but he was released at the end of training camp. They did not bring him back for training camp this season, but signed him to the practice squad on Dec. 8 after a few consecutive weeks of tryouts, as an insurance policy for Boswell.

The Lions could have a vacancy this season at kicker as 36-year-old Matt Prater is a free agent and coming off his worst season in over a decade. Prater made 21 of 28 field goals for a 75% conversion rate, his worst since 2008. All of Prater’s misses were from over 40 yards.

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Steelers Transactions

Steelers TE Vance McDonald Retires



Steelers tight end Vance McDonald will retire after eight NFL seasons, the team announced on Friday.

McDonald, 30, spent the last four seasons with the Steelers as the team’s primary starting tight end.

“My family and I are so grateful for everything NFL football has provided us in our life — all the memories both good and the difficult, the relationships and friends we’ve made along the way, the life lessons the game provided both me and my loved ones,” McDonald said in a team press release. “It’s always been our dream and mission to leverage the platform given us through the NFL to help serve and uplift others along the way, and we will continue to find ways to serve others as we begin this next chapter of our lives. I am proud to retire a Steeler.”

Since joining the team in a trade from San Francisco before the 2017 season, McDonald started 47 games in Pittsburgh, catching 117 passes for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns. 

McDonald will finish his eight-year career with 2,036 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns after being selected by the 49ers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Rice.

In 2020, McDonald had yielded significant playing time to Eric Ebron at tight end, playing less than 50% of the team’s offensive snaps when healthy for the first time with the Steelers. Ebron played in 69.7% of the team’s offensive snaps compared to 44% for McDonald.

McDonald was a likely salary cap casualty as the Steelers entered the offseason an estimated $35 million over the cap. His retirement will save the team $5.2 million in cap obligations for 2021 before replacement. The Steelers will carry a $2.7 million dead cap hit this season to pay off a 2020 contract restructuring.

This season, McDonald was recognized for his work in the community as the Steelers’ nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

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