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Steelers to Try Out 5, Including LB Jayrone Elliott, ex-WVU LS Rex Sunahara

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The Steelers agreed to try out five players on Monday, including former Steelers linebacker Jayrone Elliott and former West Virginia long snapper Rex Sunahara, according to the NFL transactions page.

Elliott played five games with the Steelers last season, making four tackles. The 28-year old spent the previous four seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Elliott’s workout at Heinz Field is scheduled for Wednesday after two days of quarantine and COVID-19 testing, he told Steelers Now.

Sunahara is a rookie out of WVU that spent two seasons as the Mountaineers’ starting long snapper. He spent time with the Miami Dolphins earlier this month.

Also on the tryout list are former Findlay guard Andrew Dickinson, former Ohio State long snapper Liam McCullough and San Diego State linebacker Kyahva Tezino. Dickinson is a rookie that was with the Arizona Cardinals previously. McCullough spent time with the Las Vegas Raiders this summer. Tezino is a rookie that has been with the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers already this offseason.

The Steelers suffered an injury to long snapper Kameron Canaday in practice on Saturday, though he returned to work on Monday. Starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree was injured on Monday, while inside linebacker Robert Spillane worked back from a finger injury.  The Steelers’ biggest sore spot so far in camp has been interior offensive line, where David DeCastro practiced for the first time on Monday, Maurkice Pouncey has missed time while dealing with a death in the family and Kevin Dotson has missed a week with a knee injury.

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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