Early in the legal tampering period, the Pittsburgh Steelers focused on adding unrestricted free agents on the offensive side of the ball, coming to reported agreements with former Bears and Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky, former Bears offensive lineman James Daniels and ex-Cardinals and Vikings offensive lineman Mason Cole.
On the afternoon of Tuesday March 15, NFL insider/analyst Jordan Schultz reported that the Steelers also have an agreement with cornerback Levi Wallace, on a two-year deal valued at a total of $8 million.
“He’s a starter for us,” said Schultz’s Steelers source, which perhaps indicates that the Steelers view Wallace as a replacement for CB1 Joe Haden.
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Levi Wallace Walked-On at Alabama, Joined the Bills as an Undrafted Free Agent
Wallace has come a long way since he came out of high school with perhaps one scholarship offer.
“Maybe Western New Mexico came through,” his former coach, Justin Argraves, told ESPN staff writer Alex Scarborough in 2017, “but that was pretty much it.”
Yet his father Walter—who was suffering from ALS—had grown up in Tuscaloosa and dreamed of his son playing for the Crimson Tide, the most successful college program in the country.
That journey began with Wallace playing intramural flag football at Alabama. Then he arranged for a tryout with head coach Nick Saban & Co., and though he did not play during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he eventually earned a scholarship and played a starring role in the secondary during his senior year.
In short, he did enough down in Tuscaloosa that the Buffalo Bills signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Wallace failed to make the 53-man roster as a rookie but earned a spot on the practice squad. After being called up to the active roster in November, he started the final seven games of his rookie season.
That set the stage for Wallace to make 16, 12, and 17 starts in the next three years, during which time he built up his career stats to include 219 tackles (171 solo), along with six interceptions, 30 passes defensed, two quarterback hits and a fumble recovery.
Two of those interceptions have come against the Steelers, with the first coming against Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges during a 17-10 Bills victory at Heinz Field on December 15, 2019. He also intercepted Ben Roethlisberger during a 26-15 Bills win in Buffalo on December 13, 2020.
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Is This the End for Joe Haden and/or Ahkello Witherspoon?
The addition of Levi Wallace to the defensive backs room begs the question as to whether the Steelers still hope to bring back either Joe Haden or Ahkello Witherspoon. Haden has been Pittsburgh’s CB1 since 2017, while Witherspoon started three games last year after being acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks in September 2021.
Both Haden and Witherspoon are unrestricted free agents; the Steelers already re-signed cornerback Arthur Maulet, who originally joined the organization in May 2021 after a two-year stint with the New York Jets, having previously played for both the Colts and Saints.
On March 15 the Steelers officially announced the signing of backup strong safety Miles Killebrew to a two-year contract. News of Killebrew’s impeding deal originally came down on Friday March 11, courtesy of Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
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