Now that we’ve said goodbye to all of the prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster from a year ago, it’s time to introduce ourselves to the new blood. Many of them, of course, are draft picks, but the team also ended up picking up numerous players via free agency, the majority of whom we’ll likely be seeing in-season at some point.
Roster turnover is an inevitability in the NFL, but the 2021 season marked greater change than normal. Some of those adjustments will be accounted for internally, but it will also require the supplementing of a number of new components, which we’ll be reintroducing ourselves to over the course of this series.
Most Pittsburgh Steelers fans probably never heard of him prior to being signed on the Friday before last, the day after their first preseason game, but street free agent cornerback Lafayette Pitts wanted to make sure that people knew his name a short time later. In his first action with the team this past Thursday, after replacing an injured DeMarkus Acy on the 90-man roster, he came down with an interception to help seal an exhibition victory.
Some may not be aware of this, but Pitts is actually a veteran, and has been around for a while. In fact, he played his college football in Pittsburgh, recording four interceptions over four seasons for the Panthers. He also started his career there as a kick returner, averaging 23 yards per on 52 career returns.
Undrafted, he first signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. He saw eight games active that year, logging 166 snaps on special teams. He would spend time subsequently with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Buffalo Bills (twice) before landing in Pittsburgh.
To date, Pitts has logged little more than 100 snaps on defense in his career, with the Bills and Jaguars, but he has not logged a snap of any kind since 2018. He was not on a 53-man roster during the 2019 season, nor a practice squad, but he did spend some time on the Bills’ practice squad last season. He was unsigned since January until the Steelers just added him on August 6.
The Duquesne native has logged around 700 special teams snaps over the course of his career since entering the league, so despite the fact that he has not been on a 53-man roster in two years, that is one area that can help give him an edge to make it back.
Pitts will turn 29 years old in a little more than a month, which will not necessarily play into his favor as the Steelers look for talent amongst youth in players like James Pierre, Justin Layne, Shakur Brown, Antoine Brooks Jr., and others, but if he is able to continue to make plays, there is a chance.