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.
The XFL shut its doors on the 2020 season in the middle of March thanks to the onset of the coronavirus, which limited their inaugural season to just five of a proposed 10 games for the regular season, plus a short postseason.
The Steelers were the most generous team in the league in opener their doors to the league’s refugees, including an initial wave of three signings of such players by the end of the month. One such player that they brought in at that time was Christian Kuntz, a name that you may already be familiar with, because he has been in the black and gold before.
A Pennsylvania native, a graduate of Duquesne in Pittsburgh, Kuntz is a local product, so to speak, playing his high school football at Chartiers Valley in Bridgeville. He was a two-sport player where he also played basketball, and won a regional title in the latter sport in the process.
At Duquesne, he played linebacker, posting school records in the process, including 30.5 career sacks. His 71.5 career tackles for loss were the sixth-most in FCS history. He was a two-time second-team All-American, and a Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Then he went undrafted in 2017, signed by the New England Patriots. After failing to make the team, that’s when he decided to focus on long snapper. The following year, he signed with the Broncos in March, but was released in the middle of June, and was not picked up again until December by the Jaguars, who did retain him until the following June.
That’s when the Steelers come in, because they signed him in the middle of August when they needed linebackers, where he ended up getting playing time in their preseason finale, even managing a sack. Of course, he did not make the team.
Kuntz then signed with the Dallas Renegades in the XFL, where he played as a long snapper, beating out another player because, as a linebacker, they liked his ability to coverage punts once he snapped.
In spite of the fact that he purportedly put an emphasis on long snapping, Kuntz primarily played linebacker for the Steelers last year, and presumably will again this year with Kameron Canaday entrenched there, though you never know.