There isn’t much else to do while we sit here and wait for news about whether or not there will even be training camp, so it seems as good a time as any to bring back this series, in which we look to introduce some of the new players that the Pittsburgh Steelers have added to the mix since the end of the 2019 season.
The team added some notable pieces in free agency, which was important, because they didn’t have much to work with in terms of draft capital due to previous trades. They also made liberal use of the XFL’s closure, signing about as many players from there as the rest of the league combined. Even while claiming that they didn’t have a lot of roster room, they still signed a good number of rookie college free agents as well, enough that they had to release three players just to make room for them.
Next up on our list in discussing the many players that the Steelers signed after the XFL closed is Breon Borders, a North Carolina native defensive back who just turned 24 years old today. A product of Duke, not exactly a powerhouse school, he went undrafted in 2017, and since then he had bounced around a fair bit. The difference with Borders is that he didn’t play in the XFL, even if he was signed at the same time as others who did.
He got chances in the NFL because he has the size and he had the production in college, with 12 interceptions and 34 passes defensed while at school. The Oakland Raiders signed him as a college free agent in 2017.
As is typical with these stories, he did not make the 53-man roster; however, he did make the practice squad, and would have likely lasted there all season—had the Buffalo Bills not signed him to their 53-man roster from Oakland’s practice squad in mid-December.
Despite being called up, however, he did not play. He remained with the team throughout the following offseason, but did not make the 53-man roster in his second turn. The Houston Texans would sign him to their practice squad on September 12, releasing him a few weeks later.
At that point, he would spent most of the rest of the year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, signed to the practice squad on October 25 and called up to the 53-man roster on December 22. He would play in one game but would not register a statistic.
He would make the Jaguars’ roster again last season, dressing for 11 games and seeing almost 100 snaps on defense, though he was more active on special teams. He registered six tackles and recovered a forced fumble, but would be waived at the start of December and re-signed to the practice squad.
Washington then signed him off the practice squad—how often is a player signed off of a practice squad multiple times in his career?—on December 24, playing in one game but not registering a statistic.
They ultimately waived him in late March, and the Steelers ended up signing him to a contract on April 16. And that’s where we are with the young cornerback out of Duke, who despite being a former undrafted free agent has spent some time on a 53-man roster for three years running.