With the NFL season coming to a close, football fans will have another chance to watch a new professional league starting up the weekend following the Super Bowl. Making a return almost 20 years later when an attempt was made to start the league in 2001, the XFL is hoping to learn from the mistakes of last year‘s failed AAF. With eight teams in the league, the regular season will last 10 weeks before the top four teams move on to the playoffs.
If you’re planning to tune in to the debut games on Saturday and Sunday, there are several players across the league who have ties to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, each team has at least one player who either was on the Steelers roster at some point in their career or spent the 2019 off-season with the Steelers.
Here is a rundown of the players whose names may sound familiar due to their time in Pittsburgh:
QB Landry Jones
OLB Tegray Scales
Obviously Landry Jones is the most notable name in the XFL from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones spent five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers as either the back-up or third-string quarterback. He started five games over three seasons and went 3-2.
Tegray Scales was with the Steelers in the 2019 off-season but failed to make the roster.
CB Doran Grant
WR Eli Rogers
S Shamarko Thomas
The players for the Defenders all spent time on the Steelers roster during their professional career. Doran Grant was a fourth-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2015 who was on the practice squad until the beginning of November his rookie year when he was elevated to the 53-man roster. Grant was signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad in 2016 when he was cut from the Steelers after training camp. He bounced around to several different NFL teams through 2018.
Eli Rogers played wide receiver three seasons in Pittsburgh in 30 games and had four touchdowns. Rogers did not make the 53-man roster out of training camp in 2019.
Safety Shamarko Thomas was drafted when the Steelers traded up in the fourth round to select him in 2013. He played out his entire rookie contract in Pittsburgh mainly as a special teams player but was not given another deal.
WR Sammie Coates
DL Caushaud Lyons
DL Johnny Maxey
Drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, Sammie Coates played two seasons with the Steelers before being traded to Cleveland. In his time in Pittsburgh, he had two touchdowns in the same game in 2016 where he also injured his hand which inhibited his receiving ability the remainder of the season.
In 2015 the Steelers claimed Caushaud Lyons off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he was on the 53-man roster for several weeks but was never active for a game. Lyons spent the rest of 2015 and all of 2016 on the Steelers’ practice squad.
Johnny Maxey was on the Steelers practice squad in 2016 and was activated for the final two games of the season.
S Jack Tocho
I admit, this one was a stretch to find a player associated with the Steelers on the L.A. Wildcats. Jack Tocho signed with the Steelers out of the AAF early in 2019 but was released before training camp.
S Dravon Askew-Henry
K Matt McCrane
One of several safeties who fought for the final position on the Steelers roster last year, Dravon Askew-Henry came up on the short end of making the 53-man roster due to the play of Cameron Kelly.
Kicker Matt McCrane played in Week 17 of the 2018 season for the Steelers when Chris Boswell was placed on Injured Reserve. Although McCrane was with the Steelers through training camp, Boswell ultimately won the job for 2019.
ILB Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson signed as a free agent with the Steelers in 2016 and played in six games before being placed on Injured Reserve. For 2017, he was on and off the roster as the Steelers made various transactions. Ultimately, Johnson finished 2017 with the Baltimore Ravens.
St. Louis Battlehawks
ILB Terence Garvin
DT Casey Sayles
Terence Garvin played three seasons in Pittsburgh from 2013 to 2015 after making the team via rookie tryout. Cashing in with the Washington Redskins in 2016, Garvin bounced around the NFL for three more seasons.
Casey Sayles spent two straight training camps with the Steelers in 2018 in 2019. In between, he played for Birmingham in the AAF.
Tampa Bay Vipers
S Marcelis Branch
Marcelis Branch was yet another safety in Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp in 2019.