Roster Recap: So many changes

It's been a unique offseason for the Steelers and the entire NFL, as well as a unique time for the entire world.

During it, though, the Steelers organization has been keeping busy, with one of the main things building the 2020 roster over the last few months.

The changes have been fast and furious, and sometimes tough to keep up on. This roster recap will bring you a look at changes that have been made to the roster, from veteran free agent signings to the NFL Draft and everything in between.

The Steelers added some new faces to the team during the free agency period, signing three unrestricted free agents and also pulling off a trade for a division rival. The team acquired defensive Chris Wormley and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft from the Baltimore Ravens in a trade and sent the Ravens their fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The team also signed tight end Eric Ebron, fullback Derek Watt and offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski.

A new class of rookies emerged via the NFL Draft and the signing of undrafted rookie free agents. The draft picks include second-round pick Chase Claypool, third-round selection Alex Highsmith, fourth-round picks Anthony McFarland and Kevin Dotson, sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks and seventh-round selection Carlos Davis.

Following the 2020 NFL Draft the Steelers agreed to terms with 10 undrafted rookie free agents. On the defensive side the team added linebackers John Houston from USC, Leo Lewis from Mississippi State and James Lockhart from Baylor. Also agreeing to terms were defensive ends Josiah Coatney from Mississippi and Calvin Taylor from Kentucky. Rounding out the defense are cornerbacks Trajan Brandy from Miami and James Pierre from Florida Atlantic. On offense the team added fullback Spencer Nigh from Auburn and offensive lineman Christian Montano from Tulane. They also agreed to terms with punter Corliss Waitman, who played at South Alabama and Mississippi State.

Keeping their own has always been a key for the Steelers and they took steps towards that when they placed the franchise tag on Bud Dupree, which he later signed and exercised T.J. Watt's fifth-year option from his rookie contract. The team also signed safety Jordan Dangerfield and offensive tackle Zach Banner to new one-year contracts, and long snapper Kameron Canaday to a two-year contract. The Steelers tendered offers to two restricted free agents, offensive tackle Matt Feiler and cornerback Mike Hilton.

The moves didn't stop there. The team also signed other free agents, including Saeed Blacknall, Breaon Borders, Anthony Coyle, Dewayne Hendrix, Jarron Jones, John Keenoy, Tyree Kinnel, Christian Kuntz, Arrion Springs, and Cavon Walker, several of them who played in the XFL.

Guard Ramon Foster, who was second in experience on the Steelers roster behind only Ben Roethlisberger, announced his retirement on March 16. Foster had been a staple on the Steelers offensive line for the past 11 seasons. He first signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2009 NFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee. For his career he started 145 of the 160 games he played in, both of those ranking as second-most in team history at the position, including starting all 14 of the games he played in 2019.

In other moves, the team placed linebacker Ryan Shazier on the Reserve/Retired list, which ensures his inclusion within the organization moving forward in his professional career according to GM Kevin Colbert. Shazier spent the last two seasons on the team's Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List. Shazier suffered a spinal injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4, 2017 and underwent spinal stabilization surgery two days later. Shazier was the Steelers' first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 15th overall selection, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl following the 2016 season.  

The Steelers also terminated the contracts of linebackers Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo, fullback Roosevelt Nix and receiver Johnny Holton.

Take a look at the new Steelers players that were acquired during the offseason

Here is a full rundown of the moves:

Offensive tackle Zach Banner – Signed a new one-year contract. Played in 14 games in 2019, starting one. He became a cult hero with the 'No. 72 has reported as an eligible receiver' announcement on a regular basis during the season. Banner was originally drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 137th overall. He was released by the Colts in 2017, and signed with the Cleveland Browns, playing in eight games in 2017. He signed with the Steelers as a free agent in 2018 and was inactive all season.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Barrett was signed to the Steelers practice squad on Dec. 24. Barrett entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, signed by the New Orleans Saints following the 2018 NFL Draft. Since then he was released 14 times in 19 months before landing with the Steelers. Started four seasons at Ohio State (2014-17), winning a National Championship, while completing 769 passes for 9,434 yards and 104 touchdowns. He added 3,263 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns on the ground.

Safety John Battle – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Battle, 6-0, 201 pounds, originally signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. He was waived by the Jets before the team went to training camp and signed with the Tamp Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 7. The Bucs waived him before the start of the regular season but signed him back to the practice squad where he spent the year. Battle, who was a three-year starter at LSU, recorded 144 tackles, five interceptions, 14 pass defenses and 2.5 tackles for a loss in college.

Wide receiver Saeed Blacknall - Blacknall, who played college football at Penn State, originally signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He spent the season on the Raiders practice squad. He was signed by the Miami Dolphins in the 2019 preseason but waived before the regular season began. Blacknall spent time on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad.

Defensive back Breaon Borders - Borders, who played collegiately at Duke, originally signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent time on the Raiders practice squad, the Buffalo Bills active roster and the Houston Texans practice squad. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he spent time on the practice squad before being activated to the 53-man roster, where he spent part of the 2018 and 2019 season. He finished the 2019 season on the Washington Redskins 53-man roster but was waived in late March. He has played in 13 games with seven tackles, including six solo stops.

Cornerback Trajan Brandy – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Was an All-ACC honorable mention selection in 2019 at Miami when he started 13 games with 29 tackles, 20 of them solo stops, and added three sacks. He forced one fumble and had a fumble recovery.

Safety Antoine Brooks – Selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Brooks, who was voted MVP for the Terrapins last season, was a second-team All-Big Ten selection (coaches) and third-team All-Big Ten selection (media). Brooks finished the season as the Terps leading tackler with 87 stops, including 69 solo stops, also had eight and a half tackles for a loss and five pass defenses.

Long snapper Kameron Canaday – Signed a new two-year contract. Canaday signed with the Steelers in February, 2017 but was released on May 5 after the team drafted Colin Holba in the sixth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He was re-signed on May 30, and then won the job in the preseason and training camp and has been the team's long snapper since. Canaday was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent out of Portland State in 2016. He played in the first three games of the season for the Cardinals in 2016, before being released.

Wide receiver Chase Claypool – Selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the 49th overall pick. Claypool had 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior season while playing in 13 games. He finished his Notre Dame career with 150 receptions, seventh in Notre Dame history. Claypool, who is from British Columbia, is the first Canadian player who ever played for Notre Dame.

Defensive End Josiah Coatney – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Was a three-year letter winner at Mississippi who started 35 of the 36 games he played in during his career. He finished his career with 174 tackles and 15.5 tackles for a loss.  

Tackle Anthony Coyle - Coyle, who played at Fordham, was most recently with the New York Guardians in the XFL. He was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. After spending time with the Texans, he was signed to the Green Bay Packers practice squad. He also spent part of the 2019 season on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad. Coyle played in 48 games at Fordham, starting 10 at right tackle and 34 at left tackle. He was first-team All-Patriot league in his final two seasons.

Safety Jordan Dangerfield – Signed a new one-year contract. Dangerfield has made a successful career being a special teams standout, finishing the 2019 season with 12 special teams tackles, tied for seventh overall in the NFL, and five of them solo stops. He also had a forced fumble. Dangerfield, who has played in 46 games with three starts in four seasons, said he challenged himself going into the 2019 season to take his game to the next level. 

Defensive tackle Carlos Davis – Selected in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Davis finished his Nebraska career with 125 total tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and nine and a half sacks. Davis, who was an All-American in track and field, played his final season as a graduate student and started 11 of 12 games as a defensive end his senior season. He had 32 tackles, ranking second among Nebraska's defensive linemen, only behind his twin brother Kahlil Davis, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 194th pick overall.

Offensive tackle Christian DiLauro – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent a portion of the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. DiLauro originally signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft and spent a short time on their practice squad, as well as spending time with the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. He played college football at Illinois.

Guard Kevin Dotson – Selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dotson was a 2019 Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Focus first-team All-American who made 52 starts in his college career. Dotson, the first non-Combine player to be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, grew up a Steelers fan and playing for the black and gold is a dream.

Linebacker Bud Dupree – Signed his franchise tag. Dupree had his best season in 2019. He finished the year with a career-high 11.5 sacks, recording at least four sacks in each of his first five seasons with the Steelers for a total of 31 ½ career sacks. Dupree also set a single season high with 16 tackles for a loss in 2019, ranking him tied for fifth in the NFL last season. Dupree also added four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Tight end Eric Ebron – Veteran free agent who signed a two-year contract. Ebron was the first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 10th player overall selected. He spent four seasons with the Lions, before signing with the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 as an unrestricted free agent. Ebron has played in 83 games in his six seasons. He has 283 receptions for 3,195 yards, an 11.3-yard average, and 27 touchdowns. He has 32 catches that are 20 or more yards, and six catches that are 40 plus yards. His best season came in 2018 when he had 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns, all career highs. In 2019 he played in 11 games with 31 receptions for 375 yards and three touchdowns, finishing the season on injured reserve.

Offensive Tackle Matt Feiler – Tendered an offer as a restricted free agent. Feiler has become a staple on the Steelers offensive line over the last two seasons, making 26 of his 27 career starts during that time frame. He was then released by the Texans before the start of the 2015 season and was signed to the Steelers practice squad. In 2016 he spent the vast majority of the year on the Steelers practice squad, active for just one game. In 2017 Feiler made the Steelers 53-man roster and played in five games, including one start. In 2018, when Marcus Gilbert went out early injured, Feiler stepped in, playing in 11 games and starting 10 at right tackle. He started all 16 games in 2019.

Offensive tackle Derwin Gray – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. Selected by the Steelers in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Played at Maryland where he appeared in 35 games, starting 25 of them. Started 10 of 12 games at left tackle his redshirt senior season.

Wide receiver Quadree Henderson – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent part of the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. Henderson originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Pittsburgh following the 2018 NFL Draft. Henderson has also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Giants.

Defensive end Dewayne Hendrix - Hendrix, who played college football at the University of Pittsburgh, came to the Steelers from the St. Louis BattleHawks in the XFL. While with the BattleHawks he had four tackles, one sack and a quarterback hurry. Hendrix originally entered the NFL when he was signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. He played in the preseason, including having two sacks against the Atlanta Falcons and one against the New Orleans Saints, but was released before the start of the season. Hendrix was signed to the Dolphins practice squad but released on Oct. 7. He went on to spend time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears following his release.

Linebacker Alex Highsmith – Selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he is an outside linebacker who is a pass rush specialist. Highsmith played at Charlotte where he had 15 sacks his senior season, finishing his career with a school-record 20 sacks. He also had 22 tackles for a loss in 2019. Highsmith was an Associated Press All-American, the first one from Charlotte.

Cornerback Mike Hilton – Tendered an offer as a restricted free agent. Hilton has played in 47 games with 14 starts in three seasons. Hilton has 22 tackles for a loss to his credit, the second-most in the NFL among defensive backs since he entered the league in 2017. His six and a half sacks are fourth-most among defensive backs since he entered the league as well. Hilton finished the 2019 season with 63 tackles, including 50 solo stops, 11 pass defenses, one and a half sacks, and one interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. For his career he has 184 tackles, with 142 solo stops, four interceptions, 21 pass defenses, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Linebacker John Houston – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Was a team captain for USC and finished his career with 167 tackles, including six for a loss, with two and a half sacks, nine passes broken up, a fumble recovery, forced fumble and an interception in 37 games.

Wide receiver Anthony Johnson – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Johnson was originally signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent all of training camp and the preseason with the Bucs, before being released before the start of the regular season. Johnson was signed to the Los Angeles Chargers practice squad in September and spent the 2019 season there. He played college football at the University of Buffalo where he caught 133 passes for 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns in two seasons.

Offensive lineman Jarron Jones - Jones most recently played for the New York Guardians in the XFL, after being selected by them in the first round. Jones spent time in the NFL after signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft. He was released by the Giants and signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad, switching from defensive line to offensive line. Jones played college football at Notre Dame where he was a defensive tackle. He had 59 tackles in his career, adding 19.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. As a senior in 2016 he had 11 tackles for a loss, including six in a win over Miami.

Center John Keenoy - Keenoy played for the Dallas Renegades in the XFL. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent following a tryout after the 2019 NFL Draft. Keenoy played college football at Western Michigan where he started 51 of the 52 games he played in over four seasons.

Safety Tyree Kinnel - Kinnel played for the DC Defenders in the XFL before their season recently came to a premature end. Kinnel, 5-11, 210, had 17 tackles for the Defenders this season. Kinnel was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. He was released prior to the start of the season. He played at Michigan where he had 154 career tackles, including 103 solo stops, nine tackles for a loss and a sack. He also had two interceptions, one returned for a 14-yard touchdown in 2017, and seven pass defenses.

Linebacker Christian Kuntz - Kuntz, who is from Pittsburgh, was with the XFL's Dallas Renegades as a long snapper this season. He is no stranger to the Steelers after being signed during the preseason last year. He was released a few weeks later when the team cutdown to the 53-man roster. Kuntz, who spent time with the Denver Broncos during the 2018 offseason, was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad at the end of the 2018 season and then signed a futures deal at the end of the year.

Linebacker Leo Lewis – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Was a four-year starter at Mississippi State. He played the 'Will' linebacker spot and was a part of one of the top trios in the SEC at the spot. Graduated in December 2018 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Linebacker James Lockhart – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Was named All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2019 at Baylor after being named the Most Improved Defensive Player by his coaching staff the previous spring. He played in 43 games, starting 16.

Running back Anthony McFarland – Selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. McFarland, who played at the University of Maryland, had 114 rushing attempts for 614 yards last season, scoring eight touchdowns. McFarland finished his Maryland career with 1,648 rushing yards in just two seasons, ranking 21st overall in school history. He ranks ninth in school history with six 100-yard games. In 2018 he broke the Maryland freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per carry.

Defensive end Henry Mondeaux – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent the 2019 season on the practice squad. Signed with the Steelers originally in the 2019 offseason. Mondeaux, who played at the University of Oregon, originally signed with the New Orleans Saints following the 2018 NFL Draft. He was with the Saints during training camp and was signed to the Saints practice squad before the last game of the 2018 season. While at Oregon, Mondeaux won the school's Tough Man Award, presented to a player for his 'Will to Win.' His senior year he started 13 games, finishing with 45 tackles, six for a loss, and five sacks.

Offensive lineman Christian Montano – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Started all 13 games last season for Tulane. Montano, who is from Orange, Connecticut, was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Connecticut Player of the Year. He played high school football at Hamden Hall Country Day.

Cornerback Alexander Myres – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent part of the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. Myers, who played at the University of Houston, finished the 2018 season with 63 tackles, including 53 solo stops, and one interception. He also had six pass defenses.

Fullback Spencer Nigh – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Started nine games in 2019 and had his first career reception, a nine-yard catch against Oregon. He added a 24-yard reception in the Outback Bowl.

Cornerback James Pierre – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Finished his career at Florida Atlantic playing in 39 games with 120 tackles, including 80 solo stops, eight and a half tackles for a loss and three interceptions. He added 18 pass defenses and two forced fumbles.

Tight end Kevin Rader – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent the majority of the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. Originally signed a reserve/future contract early in the 2019 offseason. Signed by the Green Bay Packers last year as an undrafted rookie free agent, spending training camp with the team. Played collegiately at Youngstown State where he had 44 receptions for 601 yards and four touchdowns. Played high school football at Pine-Richland in the Pittsburgh area.

Tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. Was originally signed by the Steelers through the NFL's International Player Pathway program on May 10, 2018 and spent the season on the practice squad. Before joining the Steelers played for Worcester Warriors Rugby Football Club of the English Premiership, where he played in 23 games from 2014-17 before joining the NFL's International Player Pathway program.

Linebacker Tuzar Skipper - Signed a two-year contract after the 2019 season. Skipper originally joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft, made the initial 53-man roster, but was released and claimed by the New York Giants. He was released by the Giants and added to their practice squad but claimed by the Steelers on Nov. 19 and signed to the active roster.

Defensive back Arrion Springs - Springs was drafted by the Tampa Bay Vipers in the XFL and later traded to the Los Angeles Wildcats. He originally signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft and has spent time on the practice squads of the Chiefs, Browns, Saints, Raiders and Chargers. Springs played college football at Oregon where he had 137 career tackles, 44 pass defenses, two sacks and two interceptions.   

Defensive End Calvin Taylor – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Was All-SEC in 2019 at Kentucky. He played in 40 games in his career with 22 consecutive starts. Finished with 85 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks.

Punter Corliss Waitman – Rookie free agent signed after the draft. Punted at South Alabama where in four seasons he had 158 punts for 6,740 yards, an average of 42.7. Had his best season in 2017 when he had a 45.2-yard average.

Defensive tackle Cavon Walker –Walker, a defensive tackle who played for the
New York Guardians in the XFL, finished the XFL's shortened season with 19 tackles, five of them for a loss, and led the league in sacks with four and a half. He also had nine quarterback hits. Walker, 6-2, 285 pounds, signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He later signed a futures contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in in January 2019. He played college football at the University of Maryland where he finished with 89 tackles, 50 of them solo stops, 15 tackles for a loss, four and a half sacks and four pass defenses.

Fullback Derek Watt - Veteran free agent who signed a three-year contract. Watt, the brother of linebacker T.J. Watt, was originally drafted by the Chargers in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the 198th pick overall. He has played in every game in his four seasons, starting 13 of 64 games. Watt has been used mainly in a blocking role and on special teams, with 19 rushing attempts for 49 yards and one touchdown, which came during the 2019 season. He also has 10 receptions for 152 yards. This won't be the first time the Watt brothers will be teammates. They played together at Pewaukee High School and at the University of Wisconsin.

Running back Ralph Webb – Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2019 season. Spent part of the 2019 season on the Steelers' practice squad. Signed a reserve/future contract after the 2018 season as well. Was on the Steelers practice squad for a portion of the 2018 season, signed in December because of injuries at running back. Webb was originally signed by the New England Patriots after the 2018 NFL Draft, released at the end of the preseason and signed to the practice squad. He was released from the Patriots practice squad during the season, signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad, and later released from the Bucs and signed by the Steelers.

Offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski - Veteran free agent who signed a two-year contract. Wisniewski, who grew up in South Fayette, attended Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. He grew up a Steelers fan, attending games at Heinz Field. Wisniewski was originally selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with the Raiders, before signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015, where he spent one season. He spent the next three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (2016-18), a member of the Super Bowl LII team. He spent most of the 2019 season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played in 11 regular season games, starting two last year, and was the starter at left guard for the postseason, including Super Bowl LIV. During his career he played in 134 games, starting 103 of them, and switched from center to left guard when he signed with the Eagles.

Defensive lineman Chris Wormley – Acquired via trade with the Ravens. Wormley was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 74th pick overall. He has played in 39 games with 15 starts, including playing in all 16 games in 2019 with seven starts. In three seasons he has racked up 54 tackles, 35 of them solo stops, two and a half sacks and seven pass defenses. In 2019 he recorded 33 tackles, one and a half sacks and six quarterback hits, all career highs. He added two pass defenses while helping the Ravens defense rank No. 3 in points allowed (17.6) and No. 4 in yards allowed per game (300.6).

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