Steelers Re-Sign Specialist, Add Ex-Raiders Fourth-Round Pick

Isaiah Johnson

Ethan Miller/Getty Images Isaiah Johnson of the Las Vegas Raiders leaves the game after being ejected for fighting against the Denver Broncos on November 15, 2020.

On Wednesday January 19 the Pittsburgh Steelers made three roster moves, adding to the 12 players they signed to Reserve/Futures contracts a day earlier.

Most notably, they re-signed exclusive rights free agent long snapper Christian Kuntz to a one-year contract. Kuntz, 27, was Pittsburgh’s long snapper for all of last season, having won the job in the 2021 preseason following a “down-to-the-wire” battle with veteran Steelers long snapper Kameron Canaday.

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Kuntz, a Pittsburgh native, originally joined the Steelers in 2019 but was released when the team set its 53-man roster. But Mike Tomlin & Co. brought him back in November 2020, signing him to the practice squad following a tryout. He spent most of the remainder of the 2020 campaign on the practice squad, which presaged him inking a one-year Reserve/Future contract in January 2021.

Kuntz had to be persistent to get where he is today. He played collegiately at Duquesne University and recorded a school record 30.5 sacks while playing linebacker, winning two Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year awards. Yet he went undrafted in 2017, and didn’t get signed by an NFL team until four months after the draft, only to get waived by the New England Patriots after just one practice.

He also had brief engagements with both the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 before getting a first look-see from the Steelers. He credits a workout tip he received at a Green Bay Packers tryout as a catalyst for ultimately earning a full-time NFL job.

Contract terms for Kuntz’s one-year deal have not been released. According to overthecap.com, he earned a $660,000 salary in 2021 and did not receive a signing bonus.


Isaiah Johnson is a Former Fourth-Round Pick

On Wednesday the Steelers also signed cornerback Isaiah Johnson, a 2019 fourth-round pick of the then-Oakland Raiders that then-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden once called “the steal of the draft.”

Johnson, who has ideal size at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, appeared in 19 games for the Raiders in 2019 and 2020, during which time the former University of Houston product recorded 15 tackles and was responsible for five passes defensed. He spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad in December 2021.


WR Steven Sims Has Played in 29 Career Games

The third player the Steelers signed to a one-year Reserve/Futures contract on Wednesday January 19 is wide receiver Steven Sims, a former undrafted free agent out of Kansas who played in 28 games for Washington in 2019-20. In those two seasons he recorded 61 receptions for 575 yards and had five touchdown catches, plus another touchdown on the ground and yet another TD via kickoff return.

Sims was with the Buffalo this past summer but failed to make the Bills’ roster and signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on September 1, 2021. He appeared in one game for the Steelers this season.

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