As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2021 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.
John Battle/S LSU – 6’2″ 206 lbs.
Unfortunately, John Battle’s 2021 futures report feels a lot like the 2020 version. Due to the lack of preseason and training camp, there isn’t much information we can update a year later. But the fact he’s still on the roster means they like something about him.
Battle originally signed with the Steelers on January 9th, 2020, after finishing up his rookie season in the league. Undrafted, he inked a deal with the New York Jets, sticking to their practice squad the entire season. For the 2020 season, he made it through all of training camp, surviving that odd, first wave of 10 cuts to decrease rosters from 90 to 80. But predictably, Pittsburgh released him at final cutdowns.
The Steelers didn’t have any immediate plans to sign him to the practice squad. But he returned to the team two weeks later, signed back after Curtis Riley was poached away by the Arizona Cardinals. And he stuck the rest of the way, essentially renewing that futures contract a year later on January 14th.
His outlook, like just about everything else in this article, remains about the same going forward. It does help the Steelers have lost/left go a couple of safeties. Sean Davis signed with the Colts, though as we saw last year, there’s a chance he could circle back again. And despite contact with the team, Jordan Dangerfield remains a free agent. Pittsburgh did sign Miles Killebrew and announced him as a defensive back, but his defensive snaps have been something more of a linebacker than safety. It’s unclear exactly how the Steelers view him.
Like almost any player on the back end of the 90 man roster, Battle will have to cut his teeth on special teams. Just in the way Dangerfield’s carved out an eight-year career there, himself an undrafted player from an even smaller school. Battle does have good size and isn’t afraid to play to that frame. The one thing we know about him is that he’s an impactful hitter. Hopefully to his benefit, there will be preseason games this year. And the Steelers, unlike 30 other teams, will get four of them, assuming the Hall of Fame Game isn’t canceled.
The key to Battle sticking around is impressing Danny Smith. That means being assignment-sound, being productive, and probably bringing a couple pieces of Double Bubble to each practice.