Once-Claimed CB Al-Hajj Shabazz Could Bounce Back Elsewhere

Go to the transactions page of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ website and click on the dropdown menu to access the transactions for 2016. Do an in-page search for the name Al-Hajj Shabazz and you will come up with 10 hits for the calendar year. He has had a serpentine journey in his time with the Steelers, which came to a presumed end yesterday when they released him.

Part of that journey included a significant detour when he was claimed off waivers at one point by the Houston Texans, spending about two weeks with them while they dealt with injury issues before being released again. The Steelers did not claim him off waivers but re-signed him to their practice squad once he cleared three days later.

The Texans showed interest in him once, and he previously spent time with the Colts and the Buccaneers in 2015 after coming out of West Chester as an undrafted free agent that year, so it will be interesting to see if the Philadelphia native will find any interest on the waiver wire, or, failing that, on the open market.

Shabazz was originally brought into the fold in early February as a Reserve/Future signing, about two weeks after their season ended, so he was not an immediate addition to the 90-man offseason roster, but part of a second wave.

He remained on the roster all the way through the summer, making it to the final roster cuts, and subsequently being re-signed to the practice squad, but he was promoted to the active roster a month into the season after the Steelers dealt with injuries at the cornerback position.

A week later, injuries mounted at wide receiver and the team swabbed Shabazz for Cobi Hamilton, who remained on the 53-man roster for the rest of the year. But the cornerback was back on the 53-man roster as well a few weeks later, promoted after they played Cody Wallace on injured reserve.

After another month, he was released in early November in order to sign kicker Randy Bullock due to injury, and this looked to potentially cost the Steelers when the Texans claimed him. But they were able to get him back a couple weeks later, first re-signing him to the practice squad and then four days later promoting him for the final time to the 53-man roster.

With the Steelers drafting two cornerbacks, and being hopeful of finally getting some contributions from Senquez Golson, it would be understandable to be skeptical of the odds of Shabazz being able to make the roster again, but it is a bit surprising, as he would seem to be the best option behind the first group of cornerbacks, and could have been a practice squad candidate.

Perhaps this was another scenario in which the Steelers felt they would be doing a player a favor by allowing them to get on the market as soon as possible. It wouldn’t be surprising if he is on another team within a week’s time.

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