The Pittsburgh Steelers got six years out of Daniel McCullers, a sixth-round pick back in 2014, who had been around Pittsburgh for as long as any other member of the defense short of Cameron Heyward and Vince Williams. 2020 was the first time that he didn’t make the 53-man roster, but he was re-signed to the practice squad.
Even though nobody had the opportunity to see tape of him this offseason, he was evidently on some teams’ radars, as the Chicago Bears officially signed him to their 53-man roster yesterday after placing defensive tackle John Jenkins on the injured reserve list.
Jenkins, a rotational player, was a former third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints who has been with a number of teams over the past few years. He played more than 400 snaps for the Miami Dolphins last year. He already had almost 50 snaps in two games this year for the Bears.
This could be a good opportunity for McCullers, who is now the backup to Bilal Nichols at nose tackle for the Bears after Eddie Goldman chose to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the coronavirus on the health of himself and his family. He’s only amassed about 600 defensive snaps over the past six seasons, with about 200 being the most he’s ever seen in one year. That is, of course, if the Bears are satisfied with his level of play and choose to keep him around.
Still, you can’t knock a guy like this. To get a six-year NFL career out of being a sixth-round pick is nothing to sneeze at. McCullers has made about $4.5 million in his career, and he has the opportunity to continue to make more, because he’s still finding interest. Every game he’s on the roster for the Bears this year, he will receive 1/17th of $910,000, which is the minimum salary this year for a player of his credited experience.
I’m not sure that there has been a sixth-round pick under Mike Tomlin about whom fans were more excited when he was drafted. Obviously, Antonio Brown developed into ‘the’ sixth-round pick, short of Tom Brady, but he was only the second wide receiver drafted that year and behind Hines Ward and Mike Wallace already.
But he was 6’7” and 350 pounds. People thought he would come in and just bully people around. That rarely happened, but he provided serviceable enough depth that the Steelers felt justified in not only employing him, but re-signing him beyond his rookie contract, twice.
This year, they were satisfied with what they saw from rookie Carlos Davis to keep him on the 53-man roster, but they still wanted to keep McCullers around, now with the opportunity to sign him to the practice squad.
It’s not impossible that we see him wind up back there later in the year if the Bears don’t keep him around. But for now, this is our farewell to Big Dan, Shade Tree, or, as was his last nickname in Pittsburgh thanks to his recent weight loss, Skinny Dan.