Jordan Dangerfield has a history and a name that makes for an easy narrative. He doesn’t get any respect. Undrafted out of Towson in 2013, it took him four years of training camps, including three with the Pittsburgh Steelers, before he was finally able to begin making headway in his career.
That year, in 2016, he actually made the Steelers’ 53-man roster after spending much of the previous two seasons on the practice squad. And not only did he simply make the team, he was a contributor. He even started two games, performing admirably in the process.
He seemed to be well on his way toward continuing to progress before he suffered an ankle injury in the preseason finale last year against the Carolina Panthers. Malik Golden suffered an injury in the same game, which helped to prompt the team’s move to trade for J.J. Wilcox shortly thereafter.
The Steelers placed him on injured reserve and then reached an injury settlement with him, adding him to the practice squad after he healed in October. This offseason, he has been the forgotten man amidst the four shiny new toys the team added at the safety position.
Yet, as Joe Rutter recently pointed out, the Steelers do still respect him. With starter Morgan Burnett sitting out much of minicamp after being limited with an injury, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter relayed that it was Dangerfield who took all of the first-team reps alongside Sean Davis.
They could have chosen to give those reps to the other free agent safety that they signed, Nat Berhe. They could have given those snaps to their shiniest new toy, rookie first-round pick Terrell Edmunds. Instead, they gave those snaps to Dangerfield, whom most have written off.
The Steelers have their safeties, it’s assumed. Davis and Burnett are the starters. Edmunds is the future. Berhe is the special teams guy. And then Marcus Allen, the other draft pick, is just the bonus. There is no room for Dangerfield, right?
That’s not necessarily true. Allen’s roster spot, for one thing, is not guaranteed, nor is Berhe’s. The top three safeties—Davis, Burnett, and Edmunds—are obviously safe—but it would be wrong to assume Dangerfield being the odd man out is a foregone conclusion.
In reality, this is one of the deeper groups of safeties that the team has had in a while, which admittedly is easier to do when you add four players in one offseason, though quite difficult when you also release three. Dangerfield is a part of that, as is Golden.
With all the changeover, it’s actually important to note that he is the most veteran safety in the entire group. Davis is entering his third season in the NFL, but Dangerfield has been in the Steelers’ organization—on and off, admittedly—for going on five years now. Golden is the only other safety not in his first offseason with the team.