At least for the time being, and likely indefinitely, one thing that the NFL has failed to do throughout the offseason process has been to give rookie college free agents and other first-year players the opportunity to participate in tryouts, the way it would be traditionally constructed during rookie minicamps around the league.
Given the circumstances, with teams all across the NFL trimming their rosters down to 80 players, it would seem to be exceedingly unlikely that they will be making this modification during the 2020 season. They will simply be lost in the shuffle. After all, in 2011, when the players were locked out until training camp, they never opened up a window for such players to be awarded tryout invitations.
Still, it is something that at least the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted to see, and general manager Kevin Colbert mentioned it multiple times throughout the offseason. “Even as, as recent as last year when Devlin Hodges came in as a tryout quarterback for us, we said ‘this kid has a little something to him’ and, he ended up starting six games for us last year and won three”, he said on SiriusXM at the end of April after the 2020 NFL Draft.
“So definitely that group is not going to get the same opportunities that they did it in past year”, he admitted. “We did find players and I wish there was a way that we could still find a way to get that tryout possibility possible this year”.
Wishing something into actuality isn’t something that actually happens, unfortunately, and the reality is that potential dark horse players from years past are already getting early dismissals with teams cutting their rosters down in order to avoid having to go split-squad for the next couple of weeks—after which point they would have to cut players anyway.
Couple that with the fact that there have been no offseason workouts to date, and there are no preseason games, and we reach the inevitable conclusion that players who would be in a position to require a rookie minicamp invitation are pretty much screwed for 2020.
Aside from Hodges, Tuzar Skipper is another player who remains with the team who was originally signed after a rookie minicamp invitation last year. Damian Prince is a lineman who spent the entirety of the offseason with the team after being signed as a tryout.
The Steelers’ most successful tryout player was Terence Garvin, who spent three seasons with the team and then a few more elsewhere in the NFL. Over the past two years, he was a standout first in the AAF in 2019 and then in the XFL earlier this year. Not bad for a 2013 undrafted free agent who went unsigned after the draft.