With the 2021 season over for all but four NFL teams, the other 28 are already busy preparing for 2022. That includes the Tennessee Titans, who signed a pair of former Pittsburgh Steelers players on Monday January 24.
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One of the two is outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper, who was Pittsburgh’s “training camp phenom” in 2019, recording five sacks and 16 tackles during the preseason that year. He was back with the Steelers in 2020, only to fail to make the 53-man roster once again.
By signing with the Titans, Skipper rejoins former Steelers teammate Bud Dupree, who will be entering the second year of the five-year, $82.5 million contract he signed in free agency in March 2021. Skipper could also potentially be reunited with Ola Adeniyi, a pending unrestricted free agent who (also) joined the Titans in March 2021.
It figures to be an uphill battle for Tuzar to make the Titans’ roster, as he has mostly been a practice squad player since coming into the league as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2019. In fact, he spent most of the 2020 season with Tennessee before getting released in July 2021 and signing on with the Atlanta Falcons.
Thus far, Skipper has played in 10 regular-season games with the Titans and Giants and has been credited with eight tackles, a half a sack, and one fumble recovery.
Meanwhile, the Steelers may come to regret other more recent determinations concerning outside linebackers, including the decision to release Jamir Jones in favor of Derrek Tuszka in late September 2021. Jones was subsequently claimed by the Rams and made an immediate impact in his debut with Los Angeles. At one point in the season, the former sales representative at Champs Sports was on the road to receiving All-Pro honors from Pro Football Focus for his work on special teams.
Equally questionable might be the decision to waive 2021 sixth-round pick Quincy Roche during the final round of roster cuts on August 31 of last year. He was claimed off waivers by the New York Giants and went on to have a surprisingly strong rookie season under Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who is now a candidate to potentially take over for Keith Butler as defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, with Butler having announced his retirement on January 22.
According to Pro Football Reference, Roche appeared in 14 games for the Giants in 2021, with three starts. He finished the year with 38 tackles, including 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
The Titans Also Signed Former Steelers Offensive Tackle Derwin Gray
The other former Steelers played inked by the Titans on Monday was offensive tackle Derwin Gray, who Pittsburgh selected in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gray went on to appear in five games for the Steelers in 2020 before getting waived on December 26 of that year, only to see him get claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars a day later. Eight months later, the Titans claimed him off waivers from the Jaguars, which explains how the University of Maryland product landed in Nashville.
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Offensive Guard Rashaad Coward Not Re-Signed by the Steelers
Meanwhile, on Monday the Atlanta Falcons announced that they have inked former Steelers offensive guard Rashaad Coward to a Reserve/Futures contract.
The signing didn’t make headlines, as it wasn’t as newsworthy as when he joined the Steelers. But the 27-year-old Brooklyn native is a good fit insofar as he can provide inexpensive depth to one of the most cap-strapped teams in the league.
Coward played four games for the Steelers in 2021, but in prior years appeared in a total of 30 games (with 15 starts) for the Chicago Bears, who converted him from nose tackle to the offensive line.