A struggling Pittsburgh Steelers secondary got bad news about a promising veteran added to the unit in May 2022.
Damontae Kazee, signed by the Steelers as a free agent this summer, was handed down a three-game on Sept. 21 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates. According to Spotrac, he was fined $88,332 for the infraction.
The twist is that Kazee is on injured reserve after sustaining a significant wrist injury in Pittsburgh’s final preseason game on Aug. 28. The initial timeline was six weeks post-surgery, though players placed on short-term injured reserve are eligible to return after four games.
The good news is Kazee’s sentence began on Sept. 21 and not upon his return from injured reserve. The bad news is he’ll miss what is arguably the most anticipated game on Pittsburgh’s schedule. The Steelers are set to take on Josh Allen, who’s having an MVP-caliber season, and his Buffalo Bills on Oct. 9.
Damontae Kazee Made Headlines for Wrong Reasons
Unfortunately, this isn’t Damontae Kazee’s first off-the-field issue.
In the bodycam footage below, a police officer explains to Kazee that he was stopped for “failure to use a turn signal” and “erratic driving.”
Kazee was never disciplined by the league and didn’t miss a game.
This would likely explain why Kazee remained a free agent for so long.
“It was kind of hard because of the situation I got into off the field last year,” Kazee said via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko on May 25. “But I’m just blessed to be here now.”
Damontae Kazee’s Role With Steelers
Drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft, Damontae Kazee has had an up-and-down career. As a second-year safety, Kazee led the NFL in interceptions with seven in 2018 and three the following season. In his fourth and final year in Atlanta, Kazee suffered a torn Achilles tendon four weeks into 2020.
Before joining the Steelers, Kazee made a pitstop in Dallas, where he logged two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 52 total tackles.
The safety had an impressive training camp with Pittsburgh. According to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, the addition of Kazee to the defensive backfield would significantly impact how the Steelers played defense. Kazee’s presence would allow the Steelers to “free up” Minkah Fitzpatrick to be “more of a playmaker.”
“In training camp, the veteran made such an impression that the Steelers felt putting three safeties on the field at the same time was going to be quite beneficial,” Kaboly wrote.