Falcons Signing Former Steelers ‘Camp Phenom’: Agent

Tuzar Skipper preseason 2019

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Tuzar Skipper celebrates after tackling Ryan Hewitt of the Tennessee Titans on August 25, 2019.

Two summers ago, it was something of a surprise when the Pittsburgh Steelers waived outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper shortly before the team’s 2019 season opener. Signed by the Steelers after a minicamp tryout, the rookie undrafted free agent had terrorized opposing quarterbacks throughout the preseason, leading Steelers radio color commentator Tunch Ilkin to label him that season’s “camp phenom.” In the two years since, the 26-year-old Skipper has also spent time with the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans, but somehow hasn’t been able to rise above fringe player status.

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But Skipper will get at least one more chance to impress NFL powers that be. According to JL Sports—the agency that represents him—Skipper has signed with the Atlanta Falcons, the news coming less than a week after Skipper was waived by the Titans.

As noted above, Skipper’s primary claim to fame is his 2019 preseason, which was compelling enough for Steelers Nation to produce a two-and-a-half minute highlight reel (immediately below). In it you see him record five sacks, force a pair of fumbles, recover a fumble, and cause more than his share of havoc in the backfield of Pittsburgh’s preseason opponents:

Tuzar Skipper’s Regular-Season Résumé

Yet Skipper—who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds—hasn’t been nearly as impactful in regular season action, which he saw with both the Giants and Titans. In six appearances with the Giants in 2019 he was responsible for three total tackles, with one quarterback hit and a half a sack. Last year he played in four games for the Titans, contributing five total tackles (four solo). In between, he spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad before signing a two-year contract with the Steelers in December 2019, only to get released by Pittsburgh (again) in September of last year.

It is possible that Skipper will be something of a late bloomer, much like he was in college. In fact, Skipper didn’t accomplish much for the Rockets until his final collegiate season in 2018, when he recorded 60 total tackles (32 solo), with 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Prior to that he had just 30 total tackles (14 solo), with one sack and one forced fumble.

Where Does He Fit With the Falcons?

If one projects Dante Fowler Jr., Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Steven Means and rookie fifth-round pick Adetokunbo Ogundeji (Notre Dame) as the top 4 players at his position group, then Skipper is competing with free agent signees like Shareef Miller, George Obinna and Emmanuel Ellerbee for perhaps one spot on the roster. As such, he would do well just to earn a place on the practice squad, then hope for an opportunity to do more if injuries and/or ineffectiveness open doors for him.

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