On Tuesday January 18 the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they have signed a dozen players to Reserve/Futures contracts. All of the players spent time on the team’s practice squad during the 2021 season, with the most notable name on the list being former Buccaneers defensive tackle Khalil Davis, who is the twin brother of Carlos Davis, who just finished his second year with the Steelers after having been a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Second-most notable is tight end Jace Sternberger, a 2019 third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers who has 18 games of NFL experience. Sternberger was added to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on November 23, 2021, signed in the wake of starting tight end Eric Ebron suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Sternberger’s most significant game action for the Packers came in 2020, when he appeared in 12 games and caught 12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown before his sophomore season ended prematurely as a result of a concussion. That came on the heels of an injury-hampered rookie campaign that included a training camp concussion and an ankle injury in the preseason. The Packers waived Sternberger in September 2021 after he served a two-game suspension imposed by the NFL for violating the league’s policy and program on substances of abuse.
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Pittsburgh’s signees also included a pair of specialists, including placekicker Sam Sloman, a former 2020 seventh-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams who has kicked for both the Rams and Tennessee Titans, having converted 76.9% of his career field goal attempts and 88.5% of his extra-point attempts. Sloman was on and off Pittsburgh’s practice squad several times during the second half of the 2021 season, but the Steelers never needed him to spell Chris Boswell.
As for the other specialist, that would be long snapper Rex Sunahara, who was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad after a tryout in mid-December, having previously spent time with the Miami Dolphins. The Steelers kept him around for just one day before waiving him.
In addition to Sternberger, the Steelers also added guards Nathan Gilliam and Malcolm Pridgeon, the former of whom came into the league with the Los Angeles Chargers, signing as a rookie undrafted free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on December 21, 2021, having previously spent time on the Chargers practice squad.
As for Pridgeon, he was originally signed by the Steelers during training camp in 2021. He came into the league in the spring of 2019, signing with the Houston Texans as a rookie undrafted free agent before getting released and signing to the Cleveland Browns practice squad. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19.
Finally, the Steelers have kept a pair of wide receivers in the fold, namely Tyler Vaughns and Rico Bussey. Vaughns originally joined the Steelers in September 2021, signing to the practice squad after failing to make the Colts’ roster as a rookie undrafted free agent (USC).
Rico Bussey is a player worth keeping an eye on next summer, as he flashed greatness early in Steelers training camp last year, only to get released during the final round of roster cuts. He spent most of the 2021 season on the practice squad Reserve/Injured list.
In addition to the aforementioned Khalil Davis, the Steelers inked four other defenders. That includes defensive end Daniel Archibong, who came into the league with the Chicago Bears, signing as a rookie undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft. Archibong joined Pittsburgh’s practice squad on September 1, 2021, and that’s where he remained for most of last season, though he did appear in the team’s Week 11 & Week 12 games against the Chargers and Bengals.
Like Archibong, linebacker Delontae Scott spent much of last season on the practice squad and also made his regular-season debut against the Chargers. Scott came into the NFL following the 2020 NFL Draft, having signed as a rookie undrafted free agent with the Packers.
Finally, the Steelers also added a pair of defensive backs in cornerback Linden Stephens and safety Donovan Stiner. Stephens signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on October 13, 2021; he has 16 games of experience with the Seattle Seahawks (2020) and Miami Dolphins (2019).
As for Stiner, he signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft and started last season on the practice squad. The University of Florida product intercepted a pass in his preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys in last year’s Hall of Fame game.
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