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 on the list as we continue to review the players that the Steelers signed from the XFL might be a name that is familiar to some of you college football fans who follow the local teams. That would be Dewayne Hendrix, who played at Pittsburgh for three seasons.
He actually began at Tennessee in 2014 before transferring to Pitt a year later. Unfortunately, he would end up getting hurt to start the season, and missed all of 2016. But he played a lost in 2017 and 2018 for the Panthers, registering 50 tackles and seven and a half sacks, plus 10 tackles for loss, over a combined 21 games.
The Illinois native did not raise his profile enough to get himself drafted, and it didn’t help that he had tweener size coming out of college, not quite an end but not quite a linebacker. In fact, even now it’s not entirely clear if the Steelers view him as a lineman or a linebacker, but I believe it’s the former, which is how he’s listed on the team’s website, even if Wikipedia says otherwise.
Amazingly, Hendrix managed to go through three NFL teams in one offseason, originally signing with the Miami Dolphins after the draft. During the preseason, he registered three sacks and nine total tackles, with a forced fumble, good enough to earn a spot on the practice squad.
He only lasted about a month, however, released on October 7, and he would remain on the street until the Chicago Bears picked him up on their practice squad on November 19. Again, his stay was relatively short, subsequently released on December 9, but then he hooked up with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad on December 18.
He was not retained at the end of the year and he ended up with the St. Louis BattleHawks, one of the more popular teams in the XFL. He was not a major contributor, but managed a sack and a handful of tackles.
After the XFL folded, Hendrix was among a group of players from the league the Steelers signed at the end of March, along with safety Tyree Kinnel and linebacker Christian Kuntz. His preseason production last year was interesting, but it’s hard to imagine him making the 53-man roster, even if he has a solid shot at the practice squad, especially if it’s expanded.