Former Steelers Kicker Visits With Lions

Matthew Wright

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Placekicker Matthew Wright attempting a field goal for the Pittsburgh Steelers during a preseason game in 2019.

In recent days the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed a total of 15 players to Reserve/Future contracts, including running back Trey Edmunds and offensive tackle Jarron Jones (the latter of whom has some legal troubles that must be resolved). But placekicker Matthew Wright was not among them and on Monday his Steelers contract expired, along with that of quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges and three other practice squad players.

It’s very possible that the Steelers wanted to sign Wright to a futures contract (as continued insurance against the health of Chris Boswell), but that the Central Florida product wanted to pursue opportunities with other NFL teams.

That appears to be what is transpiring, as according to Tuesday’s NFL transactions sheet, Wright has had a visit with the Detroit Lions.

Matthew Wright’s Perfect 2020 Season

Wright has already proven he can kick the ball accurately in the NFL. He converted five of six field goal attempts for Pittsburgh during the 2019 preseason after the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent to complete with Boswell.

The Steelers decided to stick with their already-established kicker for the 2019 season, but Wright’s name was not forgotten. In November of last year the Steelers invited him in for a tryout and he beat out another hopeful for a spot on Pittsburgh’s practice squad.

He went on to make his regular season debut against Washington after Boswell suffered a hip injury, and played in two more games in 2020 after Boswell suffered a groin injury.

Wright acquitted himself well in all three games, converting four of four field goals and seven of seven extra points. But his kickoffs consistently landed short of the goal line and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin chose to eschew a 45-yard goal attempt against Washington, perhaps worried about that being the edge of his range. (Wright did go on to make a pair of 46-yard attempts in the season finale at Cleveland, however.)

If Wright does go on to sign a contract with the Lions, it would be a mostly favorable destination. The Lions play in a domed stadium, Ford Field, and one of their division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, also plays in a stadium with a roof. Moreover, several of Detroit’s 2021 road games will take place in stadiums with controlled conditions (at Atlanta, at Los Angeles Rams).

Pro Football Hall of Fame Voting

Meanwhile, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee met on Tuesday to discuss and vote on the candidates for the Class of 2021.

Ed Bouchette of The Athletic presented on behalf of former Steelers offensive guard Alan Faneca.

Hall of Famer Bill Polian presented on behalf of the late Steelers scout, Bill Nunn, a Contributor finalist who has been referred to as “The Dynasty Builder.”

One of the other finalists is former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who is on the ballot for the first time and has said “it will feel like a slight” if he isn’t elected. One thing working against him is his relatively short career, as he played for just nine seasons and accumulated ‘only’ 731 career receptions.

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