With the Alliance of American Football confirming their former players were free to sign contracts with the NFL on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers have joined several teams around the league in moving quickly to snap up some of available talent.
In line with reports that emerged earlier in the day, the Steelers officially announced the signing of two former members of the Birmingham Iron on Friday, inking defensive back Jack Tocho and offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer to new deals.
Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Tocho spent most of his rookie season on the Vikings practice squad before being released a few weeks before the end of the regular season. After a second year in training camp with Minnesota, he would find himself looking for a new team come September, eventually spending a few weeks on the Washington Redskins practice squad later in the season.
In eight games with the Iron, Tocho recorded 19 tackles, one interception, six passes defended, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery as part of the AAF’s best defense, a unit that limited opponents to an average of 16.6 points a game.
Ervin Philips drop leads to a Jack Tocho pick pic.twitter.com/rPcgqiNW2y— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) February 24, 2019
Hassenauer served as the starting center for Birmingham in 2019, but also has experience playing guard from his years at the University of Alabama. He spent time with the Atlanta Falcons during training camp last season after going undrafted, only to be released in the final round of cuts, but was re-signed to their practice squad later in the year.
The young offensive lineman would end his time with the Iron as the team’s highest graded player on offense with an overall rating of 75.6 from Pro Football Focus.