According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, the Denver Broncos are signing former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo off of the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad. The move comes just days before the Broncos are slated to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Anthony Chickillo: From Pittsburgh to Denver Via New Orleans
The Saints signed Chickillo to a one-year contract in May after the Steelers released him in March in a cost-cutting move, though he still counts against Pittsburgh’s 2020 salary cap. The Saints released him during the first week of September—saving New Orleans $750,000 in cap space—before signing him to their practice squad.
Chickillo was drafted by Pittsburgh in the sixth round of the 2015 draft (#212 overall) and played in 65 games over the course of his five years with the Steelers. Most of his production came on special teams. On defense he produced a total of 97 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered.
Former Steelers LB Mark Barron
The Broncos added another former Steelers linebacker to their team three weeks ago when they signed Mark Barron. Like the Chickillo signing, the move came in an attempt to bolster Denver’s depth at linebacker.
Barron was signed after fellow inside linebacker Justin Strnad was lost to season-ending wrist surgery. Chickillo was added in the wake of outside linebacker Von Miller’s recent ankle injury, which required surgery and landed the eight-time Pro Bowler on injured reserve.
Like Chickillo, Barron remains a salary cap liability for the Steelers. In fact, Barron is the biggest dead money liability on Pittsburgh’s 2020 salary cap.
Barron has yet to play for the Broncos. He suffered a hamstring injury prior to Denver’s season opener and remains on the team’s week two injury report.
Drew Lock, Jerry Jeudy
If you’re looking for a little insight as to what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday, know that Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock has had trouble throwing the ball downfield since he was drafted in 2019.
That’s a trend that continued with his first game of 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, “the second-year signal-caller had numerous wildly inaccurate throws downfield against the Tennessee Titans. In fact, of his 11 passes that were thrown 10-plus yards downfield, five were charted as uncatchable.”
However, Lock does have a very threatening rookie receiver in Jerry Jeudy.
“While Jeudy did have two bad drops [against the Titans], he displayed the same elite route-running, releases and playmaking ability in the open field that we saw from him at Alabama,” notes PFF.
“Of his eight targets against Tennessee, he had open separation (more than a couple of steps) on six. And of his three targets in single coverage, Jeudy created open separation on every single one. If he gets those drops cleaned up, Jeudy is bound to explode in this Broncos offense.”
During Denver’s 16-14 loss to the Titans in week one, Drew Lock completed 22 of 33 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown. Jeudy had four catches for 56 yards, an average of 14 yards per reception with a long of 25 yards.
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