As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2023 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
WR DEZ FITZPATRICK/Louisville – 6016, 208
Fitzpatrick is the first Futures Report we’ve profiled this offseason who wasn’t on the Steelers’ practice squad for part or all of 2022. An outsider, he was also the most notable name the team inked to an offseason contract after their regular season ended. Just two years ago, Fitzpatrick was a fourth round pick of the Tennessee Titans, a well-built receiver with strong production, a vertical threat averaging nearly 20 yards per catch his senior season. He tested well at his Pro Day, turning in a 4.49 40.
Fitzpatrick was one of the players we profiled in the lead-up to the draft. In our write-up, we concluded he was a talented but raw player who needed to develop.
“If selected, the team that does so would then need to further develop him, so that he can work towards reaching an even greater level of polish that he appears to be capable of. I do think Fitzpatrick will be good value if he were to go late day three. As was just noted, he has the testing numbers, decent production, and flashes of potential that are worth adding to a roster late in the draft.”
Inactive for the first nine weeks, Fitzpatrick made his NFL debut in Week 10, catching one pass for zero yards early in the fourth quarter. But hey, he was in the box score.
Things got better the next week. He gained his first official yard and his first touchdown, an 18-yard score from Ryan Tannehill late in the third quarter.
He caught one pass for 14 yards the following week and then took a backseat the rest of the season, logging only ten offensive snaps from there on out. He was inactive for the team’s Wild Card loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Fitzpatrick made the team in 2022 but it was an uneventful year. He spent a good chunk of it on the practice squad, appearing in only one game, playing five offensive snaps with no targets. Pittsburgh scooped him up to a futures deal shortly after their season ended.
He has size and some pedigree with a bit of NFL experience. It’s not a bad combination to start things off with a new team. Still, he’ll have to fight his way to make the roster and feels more like an ideal practice squad candidate instead, especially assuming this team will add to the receiver room this offseason and have already brought back Anthony Miller to begin rounding out the room.