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.
Since the Steelers could announce their roster cuts any day now, and I could be writing about a player as a new face in an article that publishes after he is cut, I’m hoping to stem the tide and start publishing the new faces column earlier, swapping places with the training camp battles series.
Today’s new face is an offensive lineman, rookie guard Christian Montano, signed as a college free agent out of Tulane following the 2020 NFL Draft. Montano is the only lineman that the Steelers added as a college free agent, which is seemingly rare, as they tend to add two or three. But they also used a fourth-round pick on Kevin Dotson.
In actuality, he only spent the 2019 season with Tulane. He was a graduate transfer from Brown University originally, and ended up starting 13 games for his new school last season as their man at the center position, though the Steelers list him as a guard on the team’s website.
The team did need to make an attempt at replenishing some of their offensive line pupils, as their pipeline took a hit last year with both Fred Johnson and Patrick Morris having gotten claimed off waivers over the course of the 2019 season. Of course, they also saw Ramon Foster retire, and lost B.J. Finney in free agency.
At the same time, they have Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, and Zach Banner all heading into the final season of their current contracts, and with the cap quite possibly being even lower than 2020’s cap, it’s going to be impossible to keep all of them.
As would be expected out of an undrafted free agent who primarily played in the Ivy Leagues, Montano has a lot to work on in his game, and with the circumstances in the offseason, not a lot of time to do so. He will be competing with J.C. Hassenauer and John Keenoy, both of whom have played professionally in the AAF and XFL, as a practice squad center.