As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2020 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
Dax Raymond/TE Utah State – 6’5 255
Don’t feel bad if you don’t remember Dax Raymond’s first stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a short one. The team signed him July 21st, right before training camp opened. At the time, we opined him as an interesting option, a decent receiving option who had potential to crack the 53 man roster with a strong summer. Going back even further, in our 2019 player profile of him, we wrote of Raymond:
“Raymond is interesting, even intriguing as a prospect and could be one of the bigger sleeper tight ends in this year’s draft. It would come to no surprise to see him shoot up draft boards should he put on a good showing at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.”
Unfortunately, he didn’t shoot up draft boards, falling out of the 2019 draft and signing as a UDFA with the Chicago Bears. He was part of the training camp roster before putting placed on IR right before Week One. Released with an injury settlement, he circled back to the practice squad in mid-October and inked a futures deal for the 2020 offseason. But he was unceremoniously cut in April, an unusual roster move for the middle of the spring without even any OTAs or minicamps to cause him to lose his roster spot to an impressive UDFA or tryout player.
He was on the streets for about three months until Pittsburgh signed him. Unfortunately, he rolled an ankle early in practice on August 18th. Four days later, he was waived/injured, rehabbing and recovering until the Steelers picked him back up after their playoff loss to the Browns.
The good news for Raymond is there may be no better place to carve out a home than Pittsburgh. There’s Eric Ebron and then…a bunch of unknowns. Vance McDonald hung up his cleats leaving just Zach Gentry, Kevin Rader, and Charles Jones to battle for the #2 spot. The Steelers figure to add to the position in some form or fashion this offseason, they’d be irresponsible not to, but this is a franchise who hasn’t been keen on drafting TEs on Day One or Two.
If that trend holds, it could be a wide open battles for roster spots, on the 53 and practice squad, for a guy like Raymond to make a name for himself. The goal for him is to make himself available. So often we focus on the skills and traits of the group but the guys who have the greatest value are the ones coaches can count on to be on the practice field every day. Especially for such a young group of guys. Every single rep is valuable.