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Steelers sign 5 defenders to reserve/futures contracts

Pittsburgh adds three defensive backs and two linebackers to their offseason roster.

Oregon Ducks cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. (4) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers announced five offseason moves today, signing defensive backs Thomas Graham Jr., Kalon Barnes, and Josiah Scott as well as linebackers David Perales and Tyler Murray to their offseason roster.

All five players had previous connections with the Steelers.

Graham had a tryout with Pittsburgh ahead of Week 18. Here’s what we wrote about him then:

Thomas Graham Jr. is a cornerback who played collegiately at the University of Oregon. The 5’11, 197-pound corner was a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Graham spent his rookie year in Chicago and his next season with the Cleveland Browns, appearing in 11 games over that two-year span, recording 19 total tackles and four passes defensed. He spent the beginning of the 2023 season on the Browns’ injured reserve before being released in November.

Kalon Barnes spent some time on the Steelers’ practice squad earlier this season. Here’s what we wrote about him when he tried out for the team before Week 1:

Barnes was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Baylor. In his final collegiate season, Barnes recorded 23 total tackles, 5 passes defensed, and 1 interception. The 6’0, 186-pound corner holds the second-fastest 40-yard dash in NFL Combine history, running the event in 4.23 seconds in 2022. Since being drafted, Barnes has bounced around the league, spending time with the Dolphins and most recently the Vikings.

The Steelers also signed cornerback Josiah Scott, who spent time on the team’s practice squad/injured list before being poached by the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of Week 7.

Scott played in four games for Philadelphia in 2023, recording two total tackles. He was also an Eagle in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, appearing in 29 games over that span and recording 49 total tackles, two interceptions, and eight pass deflections. He was a fourth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020.

As for the linebackers, David Perales is a familiar name to Steeler fans as he has already had stints on the team’s practice squad this year as a reserve pass-rusher.

Here’s what we wrote about Perales prior to Week 15:

Perales played college football at Fresno State, recording 47 total tackles and 11.5 sacks his senior year. The 6’3, 255-pound defender recorded four total tackles with the Steelers in the 2023 preseason.

Tyler Murray was also a member of the Steelers’ practice squad at one point in 2023. The linebacker was working for Amazon before getting the phone call from his agent.

Here’s what we wrote about him then:

Murray, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Memphis, signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent following the draft and had a cup of coffee on their practice squad this season. He started all 13 games for the Tigers his senior season, recording 67 tackles and six tackles for a loss.

After focusing heavily on offensive positions in their last round of signings, the Steelers made a clear effort to add to their defensive depth as they start the offseason.