Undrafted rookie free agent Calvin Bundage has already gotten a taste of the harsh reality the NFL can serve up. He went undrafted, signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers with a minor signing bonus. After taxes, probably just enough to pay one month’s rent. He’s already been released, cut by the team when they signed Melvin Ingram, and then brought back two days later when Vince Williams suddenly announced his retirement.
Knowing how flimsy your roster spot can be, Bundage is apparently turning some heads at camp, and getting his head coach’s attention. Mike Tomlin was asked about Bundage after Saturday’s practice and offered some mild praise his way.
“He’s a high energy guy,” Tomlin said via a transcript released by the team. “He’s got great urgency.”
Bundage had a solid final season at Oklahoma State, leading the team with 7.5 sacks. His 8.5 tackles for loss were second on the team. It was a breakout year after notching just 4.5 sacks in his career prior to 2020. But his lanky frame (6016, 221 pounds) and below-average testing (4.81 40, 7.31 three cone) caused him to fall out of the draft, signing with the Steelers shortly after Round 7 finished up.
The Steelers are three days into practice and pads don’t come on until next Wednesday. Tomlin made it clear it’s very early in the process. Bundage’s energy and urgency are important, but one small step in a long journey to make the roster.
“Other than that, I don’t know a lot about him. Just a lot of teaching and learning, as is the case for a lot of these guys when they’re really young and we’re just getting to know them.”
Bundage will have to show strength as a pass rusher and the ability to set and hold the edge in the run game. In Pittsburgh, if you can’t play the run, you can’t play, period. He’ll also have to impress on special teams just as many other longshot linebackers have done over the years. That’s the ladder starting ILB Robert Spillane has climbed in his career. He went from practice squader to special teamer to now presumed leading man to play alongside Devin Bush this season.