Just days away from the official start of the new league year in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers’ veteran wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud is generating some buzz across the league.
According to a report from CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, McCloud had four teams, not including the Steelers, expressing interest in him during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.
The Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers all expressed interest in the 25-year-old McCloud, according to Benjamin, with all four expected to make an offer once the official negotiating window opens on March 14.
“Pittsburgh has contacted McCloud’s representation to express a strong interest in re-signing the veteran, according to a source close to the situation, but at least six other teams — including playoff contenders in the 49ers and Packers — have their sights set on McCloud ahead of the league’s legal tampering period, which begins March 14,” Benjamin reports.
Previously, McCloud said during an appearance on NFL Now in February that he doesn’t want to sign anywhere else.
“Going where your heart leads you,” McCloud said of his free agent mentality. “I don’t see myself anywhere else. The Steelers treated me like family the day I walked through the door. I know it’s a business but I don’t want to play for anybody else but Coach Tomlin.”
McCloud had a career year as a receiver in 2021, stepping in to fill the void left behind by the JuJu Smith-Schuster season-ending injury. As the primary slot receiver last season, McCloud recorded a career-high 39 catches for 277 yards, drawing 66 targets from Ben Roethlisberger, making some pivotal catches down the stretch while displaying his toughness over the middle.
Aside from his role as a receiver, McCloud also developed into one of the best return men in football, finishing just behind All-Pros Andre Roberts and Cordarrelle Patterson in 2020, while then leading the league in both punt-return and combined return yardage in 2021.
With so many changes coming to the wide receiver room this offseason due to the pending departure of James Washington and the likely loss of Smith-Schuster, it’s hard to envision the Steelers allowing McCloud to leave in free agency. However, anything is possible at this point, as McCloud is drawing more and more interest overall.