Player: Lavon Hooks
Position: Defensive Line
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights
2019 Salary Cap Hit: $378,000
2019 Season Breakdown:
We have one final free agent to talk about, and frankly I’m not entirely sure he’s supposed to be considered one of their free agents, but I’m seeing him listed, so we’ll discuss him. That would be Lavon Hooks, the defensive lineman who has seemingly been with the Pittsburgh Steelers longer than most of their starters, albeit on the practice squad.
A former undrafted free agent several years ago of the Green Bay Packers, he has been in the Steelers’ training camps for years now and has a couple of years on the practice squad. He was hoping to make a legitimate push for the 53-man roster this year, but he suffered a torn Achilles during training camp, which of course ended his season before it began.
Up to that point, admittedly, he wasn’t doing a lot to distinguish himself, which was not helping his case, anyway. In the years prior to that, he had at least flashed by making a few plays here and there, but he had not been able to show that during the 2019 preseason or in training camp by the time he suffered the injury.
Given that he would be out for the season, the Steelers quickly reached an injury settlement with him, making the minimum salary since there was no dispute that he would take all year to recover. They got some back due to the split salary, which is why you see the number reflected above for his 2019 compensation. It goes without saying that nobody signed him.
Free Agency Outlook:
It would be hard to imagine at this point that the Steelers would re-sign Hooks yet again, assuming he is even healthy enough to play by the time training camp rolls around. He has, as mentioned, had a number of years already to try to crack the 53-man roster, and while he has spent time on the practice squad, he is already 28 years old. That’s pretty late to make a jump.
Hooks likely was going to lose out to rookie sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs, anyway, who I felt had a good preseason, and was able to contribute some last season after Stephon Tuitt was injured. With Javon Hargrave expected to leave in free agency, there will be a hole to fill along the defensive line, but Hooks will not be the one to fill it. Chances are good that his NFL career is over. Perhaps he can try the XFL in 2021, if it’s around.