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.
While the XFL closed down in the middle of March, the process of teams actually signing players took time. By then, cities and states were shutting down amid the spreading Covid-19 virus. The NFL prohibited all travel and shut down team facilities.
It became impossible for teams to bring in players for workouts. Even getting physicals done was a very complicated process and required the reliance upon physicians local to wherever the player happened to be, and if that player was playing football in another league, it’s much harder to track his medical record.
That’s why it took so long for the Steelers to get most of their XFL signees under contract, even weeks after it had been reported that they were bringing them in. One such player was Cavon Walker, who was finally signed two weeks into April.
Walker was an undrafted free agent out of Maryland, staying local in school as a D.C. native—even born on July 4. Originally signed by the Chicago Bears after the 2018 NFL Draft, he failed to make the team and remained unemployed throughout the duration of the season.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed him to a futures contract after the year was over, but while he made it all the way through the offseason, he once again failed to make the roster, and once again, nobody was interested enough to sign him to their practice squad.
It was at that point that he gained interest in the XFL, playing for the New York Guardians, where he proved successful. In just five games played before the league came to a standstill, he picked up four and a half sacks, which was good for the best mark in the league.
The 6’2”, 278-pound Terrapin is listed as a defensive tackle on the roster, but that distinction has largely become arbitrary in the era of the nickel. He will be in the same position as players like Isaiah Buggs and Chris Wormley when things get underway.