The Steelers added some depth to the safety position on Thursday as they signed former undrafted safety, John Battle. Here’s what his signing means.
The Steelers added help to the safety position on Thursday, but not nearly to the magnitude of former first-round pick, Minkah Fitzpatrick. John Battle, a former four-year starter at LSU, was signed to a Reserve/Future contract, according to Steelers reporter, Missi Matthews:
The #Steelers have signed S John Battle to a Reserve/Future contract. Battle, who went undrafted out of LSU, was with the Jets and Buccaneers in 2019.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) January 9, 2020
Battle started 38 games for the Tigers at LSU. During that span, he recorded 143 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 11 pass defenses. Despite his efforts at the collegiate level, Battle went undrafted this past April.
Battle didn’t test well at the NFL Combine last spring. His 4.67s 40-yard dash put him in just the 14th percentile of NFL players, while his pedestrian 29.5-inch vertical jump was above just 2 percent of NFL players at the position.
Outside of starters Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers have some major question marks when it comes to their safety depth. Pittsburgh has two safeties who are free agents this offseason – Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield.
Davis played in just one game in 2019 before landing on IR. With All-Pro safety Fitzpatrick firmly securing the free safety position, Davis will hit the market this offseason in hopes to land a payday with another organization. Dangerfield is a seasoned veteran Pittsburgh could look to bring back, but at 29 years old, he offers little upside.
Kameron Kelly was brought in last season for depth at the position. The former AAF player locked down the number three safety role but rarely saw the field after Fitzpatrick was acquired. Kelly is no longer with the team.
Battle is simply a depth signing for the Steelers and is a player who possesses limited upside. Still, Pittsburgh needs to find a player or two who can be called upon in the event of an injury to Fitzpatrick or Edmunds. Battle will likely have a chance to compete with others in training camp for one of the final roster spots in the secondary.
Battle spent some time with both the Jets and the Buccaneers in 2019 before being let go. Now he will attempt to make his mark and stick around on one of the NFL’s most talented defenses heading into 2020.