The Pittsburgh Steelers have already announced the signings of five players who recently participated in the XFL’s inaugural season, which was forced to shut down early, halfway through the year, due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, general manager Kevin Colbert suggested that more would be signed.
The Steelers currently account for over one third of all of the XFL players who have signed with an NFL team to date, with only one other team, the Atlanta Falcons, having signed more than one (that being two players). This includes the signing of Christian Kuntz, who spent some time in the Summer with the team last year.
The @steelers are in on the XFL 💪
5 out of the 14 XFL signings by NFL teams so far are headed to Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/LNt8Iqk9rA
— XFL on FOX (@XFLonFOX) April 1, 2020
This is quite reminiscent of last offseason, with the Steelers ultimately signing seven players to contracts on the 90-man roster who participated in the Alliance of American Football. They ultimately ended up with seven AAF players, including two who were in camp the previous year in Casey Sayles and Greg Gilmore. The Carolina Panthers signed the second-most AAF players, now owned by former Steelers minority owner David Tepper.
Why are the Steelers so interested in working with these players from professional leagues? General manager Kevin Colbert previously said last year of the number of AAF signings that many of those players were individuals that they would have liked to have signed to futures contracts after the season ended anyway.
“It was good that those players were made available to us because going through this draft as we are with some limited information, that could curtail some of the college free agents we are able to sign just on a knowledge of who they are type basis”, Colbert said yesterday about the XFL signings. “Knowing these players, a little bit better, we felt it was important to add as many as we thought could help us in terms of competitive players for training camp”.
Last season, the Steelers ultimately had two of their seven AAF signings spend some time with them beyond the offseason. Safety Kameron Kelly was on the opening-day roster and spent most of the season as the number three player at the position until he was arrested and released.
Later in the season, after Maurkice Pouncey was suspended, the team promoted Patrick Morris from the practice squad and signed AAF alum J.C. Hassenauer, who was in camp, to take his place. Morris would go on to be claimed off waivers. When Pouncey was injured in Week 16, Hassenauer was promoted to the 53-man roster for the final game of the season. He remains with the team.