The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers sign Jamar Summers or any other player who participated in the Alliance of American Football?
The Alliance of American Football, at least for 2019, appears to be officially over with the league announcing the suspension of operations yesterday. It’s not 100 percent clear what the future will hold, but their company-wide e-mail suggested that they will try to seek new investment to return in 2020 after having an incomplete inaugural year.
With the 2019 season officially over, however, regardless of whatever the contract status of AAF players might be, the reality is that they will now be permitted to sign with NFL teams. There was a stipulation in the contract of every player that signed that they are allowed to do so upon the conclusion of the league’s season. Given that the season is over…well, you get it at this point.
While there’s no disputing that the Alliance brand of football was a lower quality of product than the NFL due to the talent level, there were certainly many performers scattered throughout the league’s eight teams that played at a high level and will likely find themselves on NFL 90-man rosters this spring and summer.
Among them are a few former Steelers, such as Jamar Summers, a 2018 cornerback who signed as a college free agent. He was one of the top defensive backs in the league with three interceptions. A pair of former linebackers, veterans Terence Garvin and Steven Johnson, also had good years with three interceptions each.
Of course they don’t have to just sign players who used to be on their roster at some point.
A number of running backs, for example, showed well, such as Jhurell Pressley. He led the league with 431 rushing yards on 96 attempts, though with one touchdown. On the flip side, Trent Richardson rushed for 11 touchdowns but averaged just 2.9 yards per carry.
Another former NFL player is wide receiver Charles Johnson, who clearly looked like he was on another level. He led the league with 45 receptions for 687 yards, and he also had five touchdown receptions. Rashad Ross caught 36 passes for 583 yards and seven touchdowns.