The Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 season ended in Denver on Sunday, and on Monday the team went about beginning its preparations for 2016. 10 players signed Steelers futures contracts (or more precisely “signed futures contracts with the Steelers), with fullback Roosevelt Nix and offensive lineman Chris Hubbard leading the way.
Roosevelt Nix played defensive line in college, but Kevin Colbert and Steelers running backs coach James Saxon saw him in the offensive backfield. Nix made the transition to fullback during the Steelers 50th training camp at Saint Vincents in Latrobe and confounded critics by earning a sport on the 53 man roster.
- Carrying two fullbacks at time when many NFL teams don’t even carry one seemed like a luxury.
Nix proved his worth, both on with his play on special teams and his ability to block in the back field for DeAngelo Williams, Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger. Roosevelt Nix’s lower salary cap value for 2016 could cost fullback/tight end Will Johnson, who will soon be a free agent, his spot with the Steelers.
Chris Hubbard spent 2013 on the Steelers practice squad and has been on the active roster for 9 games, 8 of which came in 2015. With such little tape Hubbard is an unknown to Steelers fans, but it is hardly a surprise the Steelers have signed him, given that Ramon Foster is about to become a free agent.
In addition to Hubbard and Nix, who held spots on the Steelers 2015 regular season roster, the Steelers signed 8 more to 2016 futures contracts:
Jordan Dangerfield and Ray Vinopal, safeties
Matt Feiler and B.J. Finney, offensive lineman
Isaiah Frey, cornerback
Xavier Grimble, tight end
Caushaud Lyons, defensive end
Rajion Neal and Abou Toure, running backs
Shakim Phillips, wide receiver
Jordan Dangerfield, Matt Feiler and Xavier Grimble spent 2015 on the Steelers practice squad. B.J. Finney also spent training camp and a portion of 2015 on the Steelers practice squad while Caushaud Lyons spent time both on the Steelers active roster and practice squad. Safety Ray Vinopal is a Pitt graduate.
The term Steelers futures contracts might lead to some confusion, but it is merely a designation used for players who are free to sign with any team as soon as their season ends as opposed to players who must wait for the official start of free agency.