On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the signing of former Penn State University wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins. The Steelers had the speedy wideout in for a tryout on Friday, the same day the team signed fellow Nittany Lion Saeed Blacknall, bolstering a receiving corps that has been beset by nagging injuries.
To make room on the roster for Thompkins the Steelers released cornerback Alexander Myres, who went undrafted out of the University of Houston in 2019 but was signed to a reserve/futures contract by the Steelers in December of last year.
Thompkins was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL draft, receiving $85,000 to sign according to Pennlive.com, an unusually high amount for an UDFA, especially a non-quarterback. But Thompkins played just 56 offensive snaps in four preseason games and caught just a single pass for four yards. He suffered a shoulder injury in Philadelphia’s preseason opener versus the Tennessee Titans, which may have hampered his performance.
During his four seasons at Penn State, Thompkins caught 83 passes for 1,245 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned 66 kicks and scored two touchdowns on kick returns, and reportedly posted a 4.33 40-yard dash time during his Pro Day.
Following is DeAndre Thompkins’ college highlight reel:
The signings of Blacknall and Thompkins—not to mention Ray-Ray McCloud—are at least in part a response to the injuries the Steelers have suffered at the wide receiver position. Ryan Switzer and Diontae Johnson both missed practice on Friday, the former with a foot injury. The Steelers also recently released wide receiver Anthony Johnson waived/injured, and he reverted to the team’s injured reserve list after going unclaimed.
For his part, Ray-Ray McCloud has been looking good since joining the Steelers on August 20, with The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly noting that he “is noticeably faster and quicker than the bottom half of the wide receivers room, making one wonder why McCloud wasn’t on a roster when the Steelers signed him….”
As for McCloud’s place on the team, Kaboly says “you’d have to look at him and Deon Cain as the potential sixth receiver [or] the first one on the practice squad. [But] Cain has been nondescript so far….”
Donte Moncrief Signs with the New York Jets
On Friday the New York Jets had failed Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief in for a visit. The next day we learned that the Jets are planning to sign Moncrief, whose brief tenure with the Steelers was nothing short of disastrous, as he caught just four passes for 18 yards before being cut.
Worse yet his two-year, $12 million contract is still hurting the team since he counts for the second-most ‘dead money’ on the team’s salary cap in 2020. But by cutting him the Steelers did preserve a compensatory draft choice, which the team ultimately used to select outside linebacker Alex Highsmith in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
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