Curtis Riley is a journeyman. There’s no disputing that. As a former undrafted player out of Fresno State in 2015, he has now been a part of five different organizations, albeit only briefly with two. After spending his first three seasons with the Tennessee Titans, he was a 16-game starter for the New York Giants in 2018, then played for the Oakland Raiders in 2019.
Signed late in the process, Riley made the Pittsburgh Steelers’ initial 53-man roster but was let go after the Washington Football Team cut Sean Davis, their former 2016 second-round pick, quickly turning around and signing him back.
Riley was retained on the practice squad, but shortly into the season, the Arizona Cardinals signed him to their 53-man roster. He was a player that they intended to protect, showing that he was somebody that they valued, even though he was let go from the roster.
The Cardinals released Riley yesterday, however, in order to promote running back Jonathan Ward from the practice squad. Ward had already been elevated to active status for two games this season, so if they wanted him to play again, he would have to be on the 53. He has played 25 snaps on special teams, none on offense.
As for Riley, he had been playing the past two weeks. He started Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, playing 61 snaps, but he was benched late because he was struggling. His release signals the likelihood that Arizona’s safeties are getting healthy, including Buddha Baker.
To make a long story short, this doesn’t sound like a temporary move. With Marcus Allen nursing a foot injury, it seems pretty likely that the Steelers would have some interest in seeing of Riley would like to re-sign with them to their practice squad, where he spent the first week of the season before Arizona offered him a contract.
After Pittsburgh lost him, the team signed John Battle to the practice squad, who was a safety originally signed to a reserve/future contract in January. He made it through training camp, but did not make the roster or the practice squad initially.
His placement on the practice squad also makes it obvious that the Steelers want to have a player at his position there, strengthening the likelihood that they will have interest in bringing Riley back. In addition, there is a healthy chance that tackle Jarron Jones, who was recently arrested for a domestic violence charge, will be on his way out soon.
Riley is a vested veteran so he does not have to go through the waiver process. He is free to sign with any team right now, either to a 53-man roster or to a practice squad. If nobody offers him a spot on their roster, the odds are good he would be interested in rejoining the Steelers.