On Sunday former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges announced that he has signed a contract with the Los Angeles Rams, this according to his verified Twitter account.
After making six starts (3-3) and appearing in eight games for the Steelers in 2019, Hodges spent the entire 2020 season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. He is one of five practice squad players that the Steelers chose not to re-sign, at least initially.
One of the five, tight end Charles Jones, inked a futures contract just a few days after his practice squad deal expired. Two others—placekicker Matthew Wright and wide receiver Deon Cain—have since moved on to other teams, the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens, respectively. (Running back Wendell Smallwood remains an unrestricted free agent.)
Devlin Hodges: Beloved Underdog
No one expected much from Devlin Hodges (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) after the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Alabama’s Samford University in 2019. He wasn’t even a priority free agent; he was signed to the 90-man roster for $1,000 after a spring tryout. Never mind that he passed for 14,584 yards in college, breaking Steve McNair’s FCS national record for most career passing yards, a record that the former Alcorn State product set between 1991-94.
But he was thrust into action in the wake of injuries to starter Ben Roethlisberger and backup Mason Rudolph, and did an admirable job in his first five appearances. In fact, he won his first three starts before NFL defensive coordinators figured out how to completely shut him down. But not before he won the hearts of many Steelers fans and triggered a brief period of ‘Duck Mania’ in Pittsburgh.
In the end, Hodges finished 2019 with 100 completions in 160 attempts for 1,063 yards, with five touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 71.4 passer rating.
The Steelers brought him back for 2020 but he was waived in early September after the Jacksonville Jaguars released quarterback Josh Dobbs and the Steelers re-acquired their former fourth-round pick. But Pittsburgh signed him back via the practice squad just days later.
As for his prospects is Los Angeles, Hodges joins Jared Goff, John Wolford and Bryce Perkins as Rams quarterbacks under contract for 2021.
Pittsburgh’s Quarterback Room in 2021
At the moment, the Steelers have three quarterbacks under team control for 2021, with both starter Ben Roethlisberger and fourth-year backup Mason Rudolph on the last year of their contracts. Rudolph has expressed confidence that he can be a starter in the league, if given the opportunity.
Last week the Steelers added former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins on a one-year deal, a low-risk/low-cost acquisition with significant upside potential. While quarterback reclamation projects rarely pay big dividends, there have been notable exceptions.
Twenty years ago, Pittsburgh signed Tommy Maddox—a former first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1992—to be its fourth-string quarterback. The former UCLA Bruin won the starting quarterback job in 2002 and was Pittsburgh’s starter for two seasons until he was replaced by Roethlisberger beginning with the third game of the 2004 season.
Josh Dobbs, who was Pittsburgh’s third-string quarterback this past season, is a pending unrestricted free agent.
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