On Tuesday the Chicago Bears released former Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick Artie Burns, making him an unrestricted free agent. For the past two years, Burns has been attempting to resurrect his NFL career in Chicago.
He first signed with the Bears in the spring of last year, but his comeback attempt was derailed when he suffered a torn ACL during the second practice of training camp. The Bears did not give up on Burns, however, re-signing him to another one-year contract this past March. This summer he was very much on the bubble as final cuts approached, so it’s no surprise that he had his contract terminated.
To date, the player who has been labeled as Pittsburgh’s biggest mistake since 2016 has not played in a regular season game for anyone other than the Steelers. Burns was selected with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. Now 26, Burns played in a total of 58 games for the Steelers, responsible for 149 total tackles, with 27 passes defensed and four interceptions.
Atlanta Waived a Former Steelers ‘Camp Phenom’
Also on Tuesday, the Falcons waived outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper, one of 26 players Atlanta moved on from in one fell swoop.
Skipper had a golden opportunity to win a roster spot, as the Falcons lack depth at the edge rusher position. But he was not able to impress in training camp like he did with the Steelers in 2019, when then-Steelers radio broadcaster Tunch Ilkin labeled him the team’s training camp ‘phenom.’ Skipper went on to produce five sacks in four preseason games, but still failed to make Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster. In the time since, he has played in a total of 10 regular season games—six for the New York Giants and four for the Tennessee Titans.
Skipper was signed by the Falcons at the end of July, less than a week after he was waived by Tennessee, which signed ex-Steelers OLB Bud Dupree in hopes the former first-round pick can dramatically improve a pass rush that produced just 19 sacks last season.
Despite the loss of Dupree in free agency, the Steelers look to remain in excellent shape at the outside linebacker position, thanks to: perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt; the acquisition of Melvin Ingram III; and the emergence of both Alex Highsmith and Jamir Jones, the latter of whom has been a very pleasant surprise as a former undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame.
Cleveland Cut Ties with 3 Former Steelers
Meanwhile, Cleveland released three players who have been with the Steelers in the recent past. First and foremost, the Browns terminated the contract of former Steelers cornerback Brian Allen, who was signed in late March, having been plucked off Cincinnati’s practice squad at the end of last season. Pittsburgh selected Allen in the fifth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Utah. He appeared in 16 games for the Steelers between 2017-18, but played exclusively on special teams.
The Browns also elected to waive linebacker Tegray Scales and tight end Kyle Markway. Scales was signed just six days ago, while Markway—who was originally inked by the Steelers last summer—was claimed on waivers from the Los Angeles Rams on the same day.
Titans Waived Ex-Steelers Offensive Lineman
Last but not least, former Steelers offensive tackle Derwin Gray was among the 17 players that the Tennessee Titans waived on Tuesday. The Titans claimed Gray on waivers just a week ago, a day after he was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gray is notable because the Steelers lost him last December when he was waived to make room for linebacker Tegray Scales and the Jaguars put in a claim for him.
Considering that the Steelers released four offensive linemen on Tuesday, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Pittsburgh tried to sign Gray to its practice squad later this week.
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