Shortly after signing a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the immediate hours after the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft that saw the Steelers not address the safety position, veteran safety Damontae Kazee appears to have filled a number of roles on the roster.
Currently slotted in as the backup safety behind veteran Terrell Edmunds at strong safety while also eyeing a role in the nickel at slot cornerback, Kazee, 29, can wear many hats defensively, which is likely why the Steelers were so interested him in free agency.
Though he had to wait longer than anticipated to sign a deal and land on his feet with the Steelers after a strong 2021 season with the Dallas Cowboys where he started 15 of 17 games recording 52 tackles, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles, he steps into a good situation overall with the Steelers, where he’ll presumably compete with Edmunds for the starting strong safety job or with Arthur Maulet for the starting slot cornerback job.
Damontae Kazee intercepts the pass in the end zone 🙌 #DallasCowboys
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2021
Despite having opportunities in front of him to get back onto the field in a starting role, the veteran safety isn’t focused on his role overall. Instead, while speaking with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko, he said he’s focused on working hard every day, doing whatever is asked of him.
“I’m playing both roles, nickel and safety, right now. … Whenever I get in, I’m just going to bust my butt every play,” Kazee said. “I don’t care if I’m on special teams at the end of the day. I’m just going to bust my butt, so it doesn’t matter.”
That type of mentality will endear him to teammates and coaches, as will his versatility on the back half. A fifth-round pick in 2017 out of San Diego State, Kazee has had an interesting career overall as a playmaker on the back half. With the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, Kazee led the league in interceptions with seven.
out of all the plays damontae kazee made last year, this might be my favorite. giving up 40 pounds vs an elite RB and runs right through him. pic.twitter.com/c820SWbfvI
— charles (load up the drake (london)) mcdonald (@FourVerts) August 1, 2019
While he hasn’t come close to that production in recent seasons, the playmaking ability is still there, which will be much needed at strong safety and slot cornerback in 2022, especially if he works his way onto the field for significant snaps under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
Combined, Maulet and Edmunds had just three takeaways in more than 1,500 snaps defensively in 2021.