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.
Despite the fact that the Steelers have been trimming down their roster, they have still managed to add a few players over the course of the past month. One of them was tight end Dax Raymond, a first-year player who was an undrafted free agent out of Utah State last year, spending the season with the Chicago Bears on their practice squad.
Chicago loaded up on the tight end position this offseason, including in the draft, and Raymond got the short end of the stick as a result. He remained unsigned from after the draft until the Steelers picked him up a couple of weeks ago, brought in to take over the roster spot of Christian Scotland-Williamson, who was waived with an injury.
During his college career, over three seasons, he caught 72 passes for 873 yards, scoring three touchdowns. He has decent size and athleticism for the position, including posting a sub-4.8 40-yard dash time during the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
He comes in late to join a tight end group that at the top end includes Vance McDonald, entering his fourth season with the team, and Eric Ebron, who was signed to a two-year deal in free agency earlier this year. Zach Gentry was a fifth-round pick a year ago, the same year Raymond came out, and spent most of the season inactive.
The only other tight end on the roster is Kevin Rader, who was on the Steelers’ practice squad throughout the season a year ago. Raymond will most likely be competing with him for a spot on the practice squad, though with the expanded roster, they may choose to keep both. They had Scotland-Williamson as a fifth tight end last year, who was exempted because of his international status.
Training camp is the first opportunity for the team to get a firsthand look at him since signing him in late July, but that has been a shorter wait than most of the faces we have discussed who are new to the roster.