Steelers Waive 3 to Make Room for Mataeo Durant, Other Rookie UDFAs

Tegray Scales Steelers

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Running back Nyheim Hines of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball as linebacker Tegray Scales of the Pittsburgh Steelers tries for the tackle on December 27, 2020.

On Tuesday May 10 the Pittsburgh Steelers waived two players — and waived another with an injury designation — to give them the 90-man roster that takes them into this weekend’s rookie minicamp, which will be held May 13-15, 2022.

Linebacker Tegray Scales, For One

The waived players include inside linebacker Tegray Scales, who lost his roster spot on the same day he turned 26 years of age. The former Indiana Hoosier originally signed with the Steelers in January 2019 and remained with the team until the final round of roster cuts that year.

In 2020, he spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad and its active roster, and made his regular-season debut against the Buffalo Bills. All told, he played in four games (appearing almost exclusively on special teams) before getting waived prior to Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers brought him back again in January 2021, but he was waived when general manager Kevin Colbert traded for linebacker Joe Schobert on August 12 at the cost of a 2022 sixth-round pick.

Scales went on to spend time with the Cleveland Browns before joining the Bengals on December 21, 2021; the Steelers proceeded to pluck him off Cincinnati’s practice squad on New Year’s Day 2022, giving him the chance to play special teams for the Steelers one more time.

Scales has said he plans to pursue a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) career once his NFL journey comes to an end.

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Long Snapper Rex Sunahara, For Another

The second player to get waived by the Steelers on Tuesday was long snapper Rex Sunahara, who first tried out for the team in the summer of 2020, at a time when then-long snapper Kameron Canaday was dealing with an injury. He worked out for the Steelers again on December 7, 2021, and was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad a day later, only to get released on December 10, 2021.

Finally, he was signed to a one-year Reserve/Futures contract in mid-January of this year, one of 12 players to do so. While in college with the West Virginia Mountaineers, Sunahara was a semifinalist for the Patrick Mannely Award, which goes to the nation’s top long snapper.

Cornerback Isaiah Johnson Was Waived Injured

As for cornerback Isaiah Johnson, he signed a one-year Reserve/Futures contract with the Steelers on January 19, 2022. He’s a former fourth-round pick of the Raiders (No. 129 overall in 2019) who appeared in 19 games for the silver & black in 2019 & 2020 before spending time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad in December 2021. Thus far in his career he has been credited with 15 total tackles, as well as five passes defensed.

Assuming the 26-year-old Johnson clears waivers, he will be placed on injured reserve, and could later be released with an injury settlement.

The aforementioned moves come with the Steelers having needed room for a trio of rookie undrafted free agents, namely: offensive tackle Jordan Tucker; and running backs Jaylen Warren and Mataeo Durant, the latter of whom received the “largest UDFA RB contract in franchise history.” Both Warren and Durant figure to get a long look during training camp and the preseason, as the Steelers would love it if a low-budget back steps up to win the No. 3 (or perhaps No. 4) running back job.

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