Player: DeMarkus Acy
Experience: 1 Year
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights
2021 Salary Cap Hit $660,000
2021 Season Breakdown:
The Pittsburgh Steelers originally signed cornerback DeMarkus Acy as a college free agent out of Missouri in May following the 2021 NFL Draft. He was not a rookie, however. He previously went undrafted in 2020, first signed by the San Francisco 49ers. He would later spend time on the practice squads of the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Commanders.
He originally signed a Reserve/Future contract for the 2021 season with the Commanders, but they released him shortly before the draft, after which Pittsburgh signed him. Unfortunately, before he could make his in-stadium debut (remember, there was no preseason in 2020), Acy suffered a torn ACL in practice.
That happened in early August, the player himself confirming it on the third. He was waived injured the following day, and after going unclaimed, he reverted to the Reserve/Injured List on the fifth. He was placed on the list along with another injury waiver, lineman Anthony Coyle, but they eventually worked out an injury settlement with Coyle, which they did not with Acy. That’s not uncommon for season-long injuries. Coyle’s was likely significantly more minor.
Free Agency Outlook:
Does Acy have a future? Well, it starts with getting healthy. He tore his ACL at the start of August, and that’s typically a nine-month recovery at a minimum, so it will probably be a while before he is even going to be looked at by teams.
At the moment, he is slated to be an exclusive rights free agent, but the odds of the Steelers signing an injured player with no experience or pedigree to a contract are slim to none. They are obligated to cover his rehab until he is healthy, though.
Nobody will have better information on him and his health than they will, so once he is healthy, they can certainly reevaluate him and decide whether or not he can help the team. There are always injuries throughout the offseason, particularly in training camp, and they have been known to bring back guys multiple years who only served short stints.
The final player to be discussed in this column is one such example, that being Christian Kuntz. He came here playing linebacker, and as of 2021, he is their starting long snapper. He was scheduled to be an exclusive rights free agent, but as you might imagine, the team has already re-signed him,, which is the reason he has been saved for last.