Clay entered the draft as a junior from Wisconsin in 2011, but nobody selected him despite his 3,413 yards at an average of 5.5 per carry and 41 TDs during his three-year collegiate career. The Steelers signed him as a free-agent, where he landed a practice squad spot in training camp. Clay made the roster toward the end of the season, even picking up a rushing score.
Expectations were high for Clay as the team prepared for camp 2012. He was expected to find stiff competition from Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey and Will Johnson. However, Clay injured himself early on, and was waived with an injury settlement following camp; leaving the rest to each land active roster spots.
Despite the opportunity he could have had in Pittsburgh last year, Cincinnati did invite him in for a tryout last October, although he left without a contract. Now, the Bengals are taking a second look.
The Steelers drafted Le'Veon Bell in the second round this year, and already have Redman and Dwyer signed to RFA tenders. However, the only other backs not listed as fullbacks on the roster are third-year sophomore Batch, undersized UDFA Curtis McNeal and the undersized UFA veteran LaRod Stephens-Howling. Clay could have competed with the first three for a spot based on type, or at least found a home on the practice squad again.
Clay may not survive in Cincinnati, leaving a Pittsburgh return very possible; although if healthy, Clay could join Harrison as the Steelers influence in Bengals territory.