The Pittsburgh Steelers have lengthy historical past spanning now over a decade of being excellent at growing expertise alongside the offensive line amongst gamers with out pedigree. You’ll be able to throw in Kelvin Beachum as a seventh-round decide, however you actually don’t even have to incorporate drafted gamers in an effort to acknowledge the maybe unparalleled success the workforce has had in turning undrafted free brokers into starters.
It began in earnest with Ramon Foster, undrafted out of Tennessee in 2009, who ended up leapfrogging third-round decide Kraig Urbik for enjoying time, and finally a roster spot a 12 months later. Urbik would go on to have a profitable beginning profession of his personal earlier than retiring partially resulting from harm, however Foster continued, retiring on his personal phrases after 11 years and making 145 begins as a really revered participant and individual.
Alejandro Villanueva is likely one of the most fascinating success tales given his background, together with the truth that, after they first signed him to the apply squad in 2014, he had simply been enjoying defensive finish for the Philadelphia Eagles.
After chopping his enamel for a 12 months studying (or re-learning) the deal with place, he earned the swing deal with job in 2015, however was thrust into the beginning lineup 5 video games into the 12 months after Beachum tore his ACL. He by no means regarded again and has hardly missed a snap since, making a few Professional Bowls alongside the way in which.
In between was Chris Hubbard and B.J. Finney, even much less apparent names like Patrick Morris and Fred Johnson who would obtain some consideration elsewhere, however Matt Feiler is a extremely notable story, for not the least of which cause being that he simply managed to signal a three-year, $21 million contract.
A Bloomsburg product who initially signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Feiler spent the primary three years of his profession on apply squads, after which level he not had eligibility to stay there. The second and third years had been already with Pittsburgh.
Come 2017, it was do or die time. He just about needed to make the roster or his profession was over, as a result of in any other case, one other workforce must signal him to their 53-man roster, and no person confirmed any curiosity in doing so throughout the earlier three years.
He did make it, and he’s solely gotten higher since then. He made his beginning debut within the common season finale that 12 months, enjoying at proper guard rather than a resting David DeCastro, and he intrigued. Whereas he spent most of his time enjoying inside, even starting to study middle, he would finally find yourself exterior, beginning 25 video games at proper deal with over the subsequent two years.
Again inside in 2020 to take over Foster’s spot following his retirement, Feiler took some adjusting to the place after spending a lot time at deal with, however the Chargers noticed a starter in him. Greater than two thirds of his deal comes totally assured with a $6 million signing bonus, with $4 million of his $5.5 million 2022 base wage assured at signing, in addition to all of his $3 million 2021 base wage.
That’s a really wholesome contract for him, and a testomony and becoming reward for the journey he’s been on over the course of the previous seven-plus years. Set to show 29 years previous later this 12 months, it was time for him to receives a commission, and he definitely did—all the way in which from Bloomsburg to LA.