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.
Over the weekend, the Steelers waived half of the 10 rookie undrafted free agents that they signed to the 90-man roster following the 2020 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh actually said that it was likely not going to sign many, but then ended up signing too many, requiring that they release three players in order to get into compliance with their roster size.
In other words, it’s not too shocking that the rookie college free agent pool was the hardest-hit by the team’s efforts to get down to 80 players, and we should keep in mind that there will be four more players let go, since they have four players on the reserve/Covid-19 list—though Arrion Springs, one of those players, may be among those who is let go.
One of the rookie college free agents who was spared the cut, for now, is Trajan Bandy, a small cornerback out of Miami, whom many have seen fit to draw comparisons to Mike Hilton, for not the least reason being their size. Both are listed at 5’9” and roughly 185 pounds, so it’s a comparison that is hard to avoid.
Bandy is an underclassman who is a three-year player and two-year starter for the Hurricanes, starting 29 games in total, including three during his freshman season. While in school, he accumulated four interceptions, though none in 2019, with one touchdown and 23 passes defensed. His 90 total tackles produced nine for loss, and he had three sacks as well, all in 2019.
Sound familiar? Because his college tape may bear some likenesses to Hilton as well, as both players view themselves as complete defenders who are capable of performing in coverage in addition to playing against the run and on blitzes. Hilton cut his teeth on special teams, and Bandy would do the same.
The Steelers do have a potential roster spot for a sixth cornerback with Artie Burns gone, but without a preseason, it will be difficult for any player in Bandy’s position on any team to make a roster. He will only have training camp practices to impress his coaches, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.