It caught a lot of people’s eyes yesterday when it was recently reported that former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones would be participating in a Combine-style ‘Summer Showcase’ for the XFL. He is one of the more prominent names that have been tied to the league so far, or even, for that matter, the AAF, which folded earlier this year.
The XFL is holding eight Summer Showcase events in all, around the area in which each of its eight franchises are based, and that process is going to run through the middle of July, so the list of names will trickle out for a while, but we know who participated in Houston in addition to Jones, and there are some others who had Steelers ties.
By my count, I see at least three other players who have at some point been a part of the Steelers organization aside from Jones. The most notable name from that list would be cornerback Dashaun Phillips, who spent the 2017 season on the practice squad after he was acquired via trade in training camp.
Phillips never made it onto the 53-man roster, but he previously played and even started games for Washington prior to being acquired by the Steelers. As a former special teams standout, he always had the potential to be called up, but it never happened.
The two other names I’ve identified as having Steelers ties are cornerback Brandon Dixon and tight end Cameron Clear. Like Phillips, Dixon did have prior experience—he was a sixth-round pick in 2014—and spent time on their practice squad in 2016.
Both Dixon and Clear participated in the AAF earlier this year, and you can expect that there will be a lot of crossover of talent. Dixon played for the Orlando Apollos, who were the top team in that league, but he did not play. Clear did get playing time for the San Antonio Commanders, primarily as a run blocker, but he did catch 10 passes for 72 yards.
Dozens of players who played in the AAF did find homes on NFL rosters so far this offseason, many of them in Pittsburgh, including some repeats. Both defensive linemen Casey Sayles and Greg Gilmore were in camp last year, and were re-signed after the AAF folded. J.C. Hassenauer, J.T. Jones, Kameron Kelly, Chris Nelson, and Jack Tocho also signed from the defunct league. The latter two have already been released, but Kelly has been noted as running with the first-team defense while Sean Davis was sidelined.
There were a few other notable names in Houston for the XFL showcase outside of Pittsburgh, most notable defensive end Kony Ealy. Running back Christine Michael and cornerback Sterling Moore (who played in the AAF) were also in attendance. It will be interesting to see the list of names from the other showcases as they occur.