Steelers Lose Another Free Agent as Houston Native Chooses to Return Home

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin

Rob Carr/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 1, 2023.

On Friday March 24 the Houston Texans announced that they have signed former Steelers wide receiver/kick returner Steven Sims, leaving Pittsburgh with just five receivers on its offseason roster. Sims’ departure was hardly a surprise, as Omar Khan & Co. elected not to tender him a contract as a restricted free agent, making the 25-year-old Houston native an unrestricted free agent.

But many observers were surprised that the Steelers didn’t make more of an effort to retain the fourth-year pro, including Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV, who tweeted: “I don’t know why the #Steelers didn’t want to bring Steven Sims back. He did a solid job on special teams and as a WR contributor.”

Indeed, Sims stepped up last season and made a positive impact as a kick returner after former Patriots All-Pro Gunner Olszewski fumbled away the kick return job. He also saw playing time as a slot receiver after the Steelers traded Chase Claypool to the Bears in exchange for a 2nd-round pick. In fact, Sims caught 14 passes for 104 yards in 284 offensive snaps last year, with all of his action coming after the first month of the season.

Steven Sims Calls Leaving Pittsburgh ‘Bittersweet’

After the Texans announced the signing, Sims took to Instagram to say his goodbye to Pittsburgh, writing:

SteelersNation, This is a bittersweet moment. I first want to say thank you to steelers for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization. My time here was beyond great and I’m thankful to have made so many memories and lifelong friendships….To All The Fans I Got Nothing But Love And I Appreciate Yall For The Support. But The time Has Come For Me To Return Home, THANK YALL!

The Steelers move forward with just five wide receivers on their roster, including Olszewski, who is entering the second year of a two-year deal he signed in 2022. That leaves Diontae Johnson and 2022 2nd-round pick George Pickens as the starters, with 2022 4th-round pick Calvin Austin as the frontrunner to win the slot receiver job. The Steelers also have former Bears 2nd-round pick Anthony Miller in the fold, back on a one-year reserve/futures contract.

Ex-Steelers Punter Corliss Waitman Rejoins the Patriots

In other free agent news, the New England Patriots signed former Steelers punter Corliss Waitman just a day after the Broncos withdrew their tender to the exclusive rights free agent.

The Patriots lost Waitman to the Steelers in Dec. 2021 when Pittsburgh signed him off New England’s practice squad. He proceeded to appear in two games for Pittsburgh before the Steelers waived him to make room on the roster for wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. He was subsequently claimed by the Broncos and went on to win Denver’s punting job in 2022.

Offensive Tackle Trent Scott Signs With Washington

Meanwhile, on March 23, 2023, the Steelers lost unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Trent Scott to the Washington Commanders. Scott, 29, appeared in eight games (with one start) for Pittsburgh in 2022, having inked him to a one-year contract in May 2022.

The organization quickly filled his spot by signing offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark, a 2016 3rd-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts.

The Steelers might soon lose another offensive lineman in free agency. Earlier this week backup center/guard J.C. Hassenauer had a visit with the New York Giants. Hassenauer appeared in 45 games for the Steelers from 2020-22, with seven starts.