Steelers Bring Back Former CB, Add Ex-Bengals Tight End: Reports

Justin Rigg Bengals

Sarah Stier/Getty Images Justin Rigg of the Cincinnati Bengals during a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on August 21, 2022.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mark Gilbert is returning to the Steel City, this according to his agent, Reggie Mitchell, who tweeted out a message on Thursday that read:

“The Steelers are signing my client Mark Gilbert to the practice squad. He’s excited to be back in the Burgh and ready to add some much needed depth.”

Gilbert, who is 6-foot-1, originally signed with the Steelers on May 7, 2021, as a rookie undrafted free agent out of Duke. After he failed to make the 53-man roster out of training camp he signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad, where he remained until the Detroit Lions poached him on October 12, 2021.

He went on to appear in eight games for the Lions last season and was credited with three tackles, one pass breakup and the aforementioned forced fumble, having played a total of 47 defensive snaps and 27 special teams snaps, as per Pro Football Reference.

Yet he was waived by the Lions on August 29, 2022, prompting several Steelers observers to highlight his success with Detroit. Most notably, he forced a Diontae Johnson fumble during overtime of the Detroit-Pittsburgh game last November, which helped the winless Lions preserve a 16-16 tie.

As noted by Ari Meirov of Pro Football Focus, Gilbert earned a “strong” 76.3 overall grade from PFF in 2021.

Mark Gilbert’s Family is NFL Royalty

All that said, it’s perhaps worth noting that Gilbert is the cousin of former four-time first-team All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and the nephew of former NFL defensive lineman Sean Gilbert. Revis is a seven-time Pro Bowler who finished second to Charles Woodson in the AP Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2009.

But Sean Gilbert — who was selected No. 3 overall in 1992 by the Los Angeles Rams — also had a long, successful career in the league, playing for four different teams over the course of 11 seasons, making one Pro Bowl along the way. Both Revis and Gilbert starred at the University of Pittsburgh before they were first-round picks, with Revis selected No. 14 overall in 2007 by the Jets.

How Mark Gilbert Fits With the Steelers

Gilbert joins a cornerback room that features Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace as the top 3, with Arthur Maulet the nickel corner and former undrafted free agent James Pierre a backup on the outside. As of this moment, Gilbert is the only cornerback on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, which also features safety Elijah Riley, who was claimed by the Steelers after he was waived by the New York Jets.

He’s “better than Justin Layne,” said one Steelers fan on Twitter, which is almost certainly true, at least if you’re talking about the ability to contribute on defense.

Layne, a fourth-year cornerback out of Michigan State, was part of Pittsburgh’s final round of roster cuts and was claimed on waivers by the New York Giants.

Ex-Bengals TE Justin Rigg Signing to Practice Squad

Meanwhile, former Kentucky and Cincinnati Bengals tight end Justin Rigg has indicated that he is signing to Pittsburgh’s practice squad, with the graphic coming courtesy of Done Deal Sports Management.

Rigg — 6-foot-6 and 253 pounds — played in team-record 63 games over the course of four years at Kentucky, with 35 starts. During that time he caught 50 passes for 547 yards and five touchdowns, with an average of 10.9 yards per reception.

This spring he signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent. He had just one catch for three yards in the preseason, though it did go for a touchdown.

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