The Pittsburgh Steelers have been no strangers to scouring alternative football leagues for talent. Arguably the most significant player to emerge from the first incarnation of the XFL was Tommy Maddox, who won the Comeback Player of the Year Award in Pittsburgh. If you search for prominent CFL players who played in the NFL, Stefon Logan’s name will come up, as well.
Last year, they also took advantage of the Alliance of American Football, ultimately signing seven players who had been under contract with the unsuccessful, upstart league, which folded eight games into his inaugural Spring season. Two of those players had previously been in training camp with the Steelers.
The total list encompasses Kameron Kelly, J.C. Hassenauer, Casey Sayles, Greg Gilmore, Winston Craig, J.T. Jones, and Jack Tocho. Gillmore was brought in to rookie minicamp and signed afterward, taking Craig’s roster spot. Tocho was waived in OTAs. The others made it to training camp, but only Kelly would make the 53-man roster. Hassenauer would eventually find his way there for the season finale as well, though of course we know how Kelly’s season ended.
With the doors for signing XFL players officially opening on Monday, the Steelers dipped their toes into that pool yesterday as well, signing three players, which we have already discussed, and there will likely be more signings to come, even if they may come after the draft.
The three players signed all address positions that they lost in free agency. With Ramon Foster retiring and B.J. Finney leaving, they brought in offensive tackle Jarron Jones, a Notre Dame product who converted from a defensive lineman, and who should have inside capability.
Javon Hargrave was the most significant exit via free agency, though one that was rather expected. In addition to acquiring Chris Wormley via trade, they have also signed Cavon Walker to join the defensive line. He led the XFL with four and a half sacks over five games.
Finally, with Sean Davis departing and with nobody else having been brought in, the Steelers also bolstered the safety position with the signing of Tyree Kinnel. He recorded 17 tackles in the XFL while playing for one of the league’s top defenses in the DC Defenders.
Kinnel is a product of Michigan, where he was teammates with Devin Bush, Zach Gentry, and Chris Wormley, as well as Amara Darboh. Walker comes out of Maryland, where he was teammates with Derwin Gray, as well as Trey Edmunds, though his time there did not overlap with new quarterbacks coach Matt Canada.