The Pittsburgh Steelers are signing free-agent tight end Dax Raymond, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
Raymond was signed by the Chicago Bears last year after going undrafted out of Utah State.
According to ChicagoBears.com, Raymond sustained a head injury in the Bears’ preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans, then was placed on injured reserve and waived injured. He was subsequently signed to the team’s practice squad on October 14, 2019. Raymond never appeared in a regular season game and the Bears waived him in April.
In 27 career games at Utah State, Raymond caught 72 passes for 873 yards and three touchdowns. Some of those passes were from QB Jordan Love, the 2020 first round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers.
Raymond is listed at 6-4 and 245 pounds. He’s similar in size to Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool, and is seen as more of a pass catching tight end than a run blocker.
Raymond lived in Russia for two years after high school while serving as a missionary with the Vladivostok mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He can speak Russian and one of his hobbies is playing the piano.
Christian Scotland-Williamson Waived
To make room for Raymond, the Steelers announced that they have waived tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson.
Scotland-Williamson spent the past two years on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, a former rugby star who came to the Steelers as part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program. At 6-9 and 273 pounds, Scotland-Williamson is blessed with great size, but was trying to make the difficult transition from rugby to American football at the professional level. Though he made progress over the course of the past two years, the Steelers wanted to make the fight for tight end jobs more competitive.
Raymond joins a tight end group that also features free agent addition Eric Ebron, holdover veteran Vance McDonald, and second-year man Zach Gentry, a fifth-round draft pick in 2019.
It’s undeniable that the Steelers needed help from a pass catching perspective after the 2019 season. According to PFF, Pittsburgh’s tight ends had the worst receiving grade in the NFL last year, “while also ranking last at just 7.7 yards per reception.”
PFF predicts that Eric Ebron may be a big part of the solution, saying, “Ebron still drops a few too many passes, and he’s not a great run-blocker, but he has the athleticism and spectacular-catch ability that will complement the outside receivers nicely.” Ebron signed a two-year $12 million contract in the offseason, coming over from the Indianapolis Colts.
That leaves McDonald in a backup role, with Gentry competing with Raymond for the job as third tight end. It’s also conceivable that the Steelers could keep four tight ends on their 53-man roster, assuming the third and fourth tight ends are significant contributors on special-teams. Gentry played just 49 snaps during his rookie year so his spot on the roster is anything but secure.
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