On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed the contracts of five practice squad players to expire, including fourth-string quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges, who signed with the Steelers in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of Samford University.
He went on to send a tweet expressing his thanks for getting the chance to live out his NFL dream.
✌🏼 Pittsburgh! Thankful for the opportunity and the ability to live out my dream. Nothing but love! QUACK! pic.twitter.com/kSJGffYQyj
— Devlin Hodges (@DevlinHodges10) January 19, 2021
The tweet prompted more than 700 comments from Steelers fans, most of whom expressed their appreciation for his efforts, not to mention their appreciation for beating Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in December 2019.
Others took the opportunity to recall Duck mania, which was fun while it lasted.
Hell of a ride pic.twitter.com/B1nJgLxlSi
— 🦅Manic Minkah🦅 (@DominicFitz39) January 19, 2021
Hodges was a forgotten man in 2020, having spent the entire season on the practice squad without ever being active for a game. In fact, when starter Ben Roethlisberger talked about the team’s quarterbacks prior to the Wild Card playoff game against the Browns, he didn’t even mention Hodges. (Duck had a good sense of humor about the oversight, though.)
It’s conceivable that Hodges could be re-signed as an emergency option somewhere down the road, as he does have six games of experience as a starter (3-3). But the Steelers no doubt want to look at other options, preferably ones with more upside potential.
Placekicker Matthew Wright a Free Agent
Another player whose contract was allowed to expire on Monday faces a similar situation, except his issue is a lack of leg strength. Of course, I’m talking about placekicker Matthew Wright, who was active for three games this season while Chris Boswell was injured.
Wright acquitted himself well, converting every field goal and extra point attempt he was asked to make, four and seven, respectively. But his limitations in terms of kicking for distance make it difficult for him to earn a regular NFL job, though he appears to be an enviable short-term solution for teams with an injured kicker.
Meanwhile, the contracts of wide receiver Deon Cain, tight end Charles Jones and running back Wendell Smallwood were also allowed to expire.
Cain was elevated from the practice squad for two games this season but did not record a reception.
Jones was added to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in November after No. 2 tight end Vance McDonald tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Jones, who is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, has also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills.
Last but not least, Smallwood—an NFL veteran who has played for both Washington and Philadelphia—signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on September 7, 2020. He was elevated from the practice squad for one game but did not get a carry.
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Steelers Sign 15 Players
During the course of the past week the Steelers signed a total of 15 players to Reserve/Future contracts, including RB Trey Edmunds and OT Jarron Jones.
As for the list of 13 players signed this past Friday, it features a trio of offensive tackles, which looks to be one of the team’s greatest areas of need entering free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft. The three tackles in question are Anthony Coyle, Brandon Walton and John Leglue, the latter of whom was a late-season addition who has spent time with the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
The list also includes developmental punting prospect Corliss Waitman and backup long snapper Christian Kuntz, as well as a former starting cornerback (Trevor Williams, Los Angeles Chargers).
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