As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2020 offseason. We’ll focus this on the future players who spent no or limited time on the team during 2019. Taken a bit of a break but following up with a new futures report today.
Quadree Henderson/WR Pittsburgh – 5’8 192
Round two for Quadree Henderson. Training camp will look a lot different this year at Heinz Field instead of Latrobe but this won’t be Henderson’s first lap around the track as a Steeler.
A local product who attended Pitt, Henderson surprisingly left school a year early to declare for the draft. While I don’t know the motivation for that decision, he ultimately went undrafted in 2018 but latched on with the Steelers as a UDFA.
He spent camp with the team with middling results. He was tentative as a returner and rarely made waves in practice. Here’s what we wrote about him post-Latrobe, giving him an ugly D- grade.
“Rarely used as a receiver, I’m estimating he got only 20-30 reps there throughout all the practices combined (in comparison, I’m guessing Thomas saw somewhere between 75-100).
That makes him an exclusive returner, nearly extinct in the NFL today, and he’s struggled there too with both opportunity and productivity. No punt returns (despite having chances) and two kick returns in two games. That’s not going to cut it. One of the quietest and most non-descript camps of anyone at Latrobe.”
And he was released outright at final cutdowns. He latched on with the New York Giants, elevated to the active roster by mid-season and to date, saw his only Sunday action. All his work came on special teams, a kick and punt returner, including this 21 yard PR against the Atlanta Falcons .
But his season ended by late November with a shoulder injury. New York kept him through the winter but released him in April of 2019 to clear room on their 90 man roster prior to the draft. And so began the journeymen phase of his career. The Jets claimed him on waivers two days later but cut before the first preseason game. Jacksonville gave him a cup of coffee for the rest of the summer before the XFL New York Guardians drafted him in October. But the NFL came calling again, Carolina signing him to their practice squad later that month but holding onto him for just over two weeks.
That’s when Pittsburgh gave him another ring. He signed to the Steelers’ practice squad after their receiver room was hit hard by injury and inked a futures deal following the season.
Unfortunately for him, it’s hard to see any path to the 53 man roster this year. His skillset is one that has to prove himself on special teams and with a limited or potentially no preseason, he won’t have the chance. Training camp practices do very little to highlight a returner’s skillset aside from technique and ball security, two important traits but one that doesn’t get you on the roster alone.
Henderson’s best shot is to take advantage of an expanded practice squad and potentially an even larger taxi group with COVID in mind. He is a different body type on the roster, a small, shifty player in a sea of tall “jump ball” type of receivers, so that’ll help a bit, but it’s unlikely to be enough.