Steelers Sign Free Agent Safety, ‘Top Special Teams Asset’: Report

Miles Killebrew

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Miles Killebrew #35 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on September 10, 2017.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network/NFL.com, the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed free agent strong safety Miles Killebrew to a one-year contract. Killebrew is sometimes described as a “top special teams asset.” Or more frequently, “special teams ace.”

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Miles Killebrew’s Career with the Lions

Killebrew (pronounced KILLA-brew) was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft by the Detroit Lions (No. 111 overall) and has played his entire career with the team, appearing in 78 games over the past five seasons. During that time frame (which includes four starts) Killebrew has recorded 105 total tackles (88 solo), along with six passes defensed, two interceptions and a forced fumble. One of his two interceptions was returned for a touchdown (against Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals, in 2017).

Killebrew Picks Off Palmer2017-09-22T04:25:15Z

But the Steelers are no doubt bringing him in for his ability to excel on special teams. He has only played 590 snaps on defense in his career, as compared to 1,630 snaps on special teams, this according to Pro Football Reference. Typically he is in on approximately three-quarters of his team’s ST snaps, yet he reached a career high in 2020, playing 80 percent of the snaps despite missing one game (versus the Atlanta Falcons, to witness the birth of his first child).

The 27-year-old, who is listed by some NFL observers as a linebacker, played his college football at Southern Utah (2011-14). In fact, he’s the highest drafted NFL player in school history.

In his final season with the Lions he earned $2 million, per overthecap.com, with $1,862,500 in salary and a $137,500 signing bonus. The Steelers have yet to announce the deal and financial terms of the contract are not yet available.

He also has a reputation as a team leader, and served as Detroit’s NFL Players Association representative last year.


Steelers Free Agency Scorecard

Notably, Killebrew is the first unrestricted free agent that the Steelers have signed from outside the organization since the start of the new league year on March 17th.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has managed to retain several of its own unrestricted free agents, headlined by wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is back on a one-year, $8 million deal. The Steelers have also held onto defensive lineman Chris Wormley, offensive tackle Zach Banner and cornerback Cameron Sutton, the latter deal officially announced by the Steelers on Saturday afternoon.

But some of Pittsburgh’s free agent losses have been painful, especially the loss of outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who went to the Tennessee Titans on a five-year, $82.5 million contract. The Steelers also lost offensive lineman Matt Feiler to the Los Angeles Chargers and slot cornerback Mike Hilton landed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Last but not least, veteran defensive lineman Tyson Alualu inked a two year, $4 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team that drafted him No. 10 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

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