10 players Steelers could poach from the UFL to bolster their roster in 2024

The UFL is about to kick off and the Steelers could poach some of their talent for roster depth.

Carolina Panther vs New York Giants
Carolina Panther vs New York Giants / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

We are a little over a month away from the newly branded United Football League (UFL) starting its new season. Both the USFL and XFL have combined during their long offseason to make a bigger league for spring football. It will allow for plenty of players to show what they have left in the tank to hopefully get another shot at the NFL level.

It worked last year as plenty of players from the USFL and XFL were able to get contracts to try and make rosters in training camp. The Steelers were one of the teams that signed players from this route of talent acquisition. Some of the players stuck while others just weren't consistent enough.

The UFL starts on March 30th. It will consist of two conferences one being the XFL and the other being the USFL. They combine for eight teams total as they will battle all season to try and become champions. Many former players from both leagues will be returning while other former NFL players will try and make a good impression to try and crack into the top league once again.

Marquette King is a veteran UFL Punter that could get some interest

We know that the black and gold are not afraid of taking different routes to try and improve their roster. Pressley Harvin III is officially gone after being cut earlier this month. Newcomer Cameron Johnston is going to be their starter in 2024, but Marquette King would be a nice leg to bring to camp, and Pittsburgh could promote him in the event of an injury.

King is going into his second stint with the Arlington Renegades. They won the XFL Championship last year. He is a veteran punter who brings a big personality with him. He is someone that should fit into the Steelers locker room pretty easily. He could be an interesting option to sign to battle for a practice squad spot if his UFL season is strong.

Pittsburgh could show interest in a former top pick like Gareon Conley

We know that the Steelers love to sign free agents that were high draft choices. For one reason or another, Pittsburgh seems to try and find former highly selected players in previous drafts that didn't work out and try to make them reclamation projects. More failure than success stories have come from those moves, but the UFL could provide different options that fit that bill.

Gareon Conley is one of the bigger names joining the UFL this season. He was the first-round pick by the Oakland Raiders during the 2017 NFL Draft. That was seen as a little bit of a reach at the time as many thought he would go on day two. The Raiders seemed to set him up for failure and Conley started to get exposed by NFL talents on a routine basis.

One of the biggest concerns about Conley coming out of the draft was a sexual assault allegation made towards him right before the event. He denied the rumors and a jury later ruled that he was not guilty in that case. His time in Oakland was not great as it was hampered by injuries and overall poor play for a first-round pick.

Conley would be traded to the Houston Texans in 2020 for a third-round selection but most of the same issues followed the cornerback to his new home. If Conley can stay healthy and return to the form that he was at during his collegiate days, then the Steelers could have interest. They would need to check his character concerns again, but Conley has the draft pedigree that Pittsburgh loves in their free agents.

Adrian Martinez has a recent Free Agency connection to the Steelers

We enter the potential quarterback options for the Steelers as the UFL has a couple of interesting names out there. Some could be considered players who could become camp arms to keep for extra snaps at training camp, while others could be seen as realistic competition to be the third-string guy. There are a couple on this list that could be third-string options if their seasons in the UFL go well.

The quarterback list starts with Adrian Martinez. We know that he is on Pittsburgh's radar. They had him work out for the club back in December. It didn't materialize into a contract offer or a futures deal, but it did establish a connection. Pittsburgh has to figure out their quarterback room for this upcoming season and that includes the last guy on their roster.

Martinez was the first true Freshman to start at quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He had a promising first year as the starter, but things went stale after that. He just wasn't able to produce the quality numbers that you want to see in a starting quarterback in college. He did transfer to Kansas State to be their starter, but that didn't work out either.

The 2023 undrafted free agent just turned 24 years old, so he still has some room to grow potentially. He will probably be the starting quarterback for the Birmingham Stallions. This is a prime opportunity for Martinez to put up quality stats during the UFL's season and catch the attention of NFL clubs. If he does well, then the Steelers may circle back to him.

Bubba Bolden might be the answer at a major need in Pittsburgh

Don't get it twisted, this does not mean Bubba Bolden should be the starting safety next to Minkah Fitzpatrick next season. This is far from that campaign. Bolden is someone who has great size for the position and might be able to turn into a role player for the Steelers at some point. Many thought that he should have been drafted coming out of college, but that did not happen.

He was a highly recruited player coming out of high school, so we know that his physical traits as a ball player are there. One thing you notice when you look at Bolden's college career is the lack of production. Many thought that if he could have just stayed healthy and produced at a quality level for a year or two, then he would have been a lock for the NFL.

Unfortunately for Bolden, his health routinely failed him throughout his college career. Mike Tomlin always says that your availability is your best ability. If you're not playing, then you will be passed on time and time again. Bolden has a terrific opportunity in front of him to get his name back into the minds of NFL teams.

He will likely be the starting safety on the Birmingham Stallions. They have been one of the best teams in the USFL since they brought that league back. If Bolden can stay healthy and use his size to his advantage then the Steelers will show interest. They need to find quality depth at safety as last season pushed them to their limits.

It might be worth taking a flyer on another receiver like Deontay Burnett

We know that the Steelers have shown interest in the receiver position coming out of this talent pool before. Pittsburgh signed Hakeem Butler last offseason after he had a strong season with the St. Louis Battlehawks. They gave him a tryout opportunity, which eventually led to him signing a deal to join the club in training camp.

Things didn't work out as Butler showed that he still couldn't translate his success over from the XFL to the NFL. It was worth a shot, and the black and gold could try it again this year. One name that had a strong season last time around and could get some extra NFL attention is Deontay Burnett. He was one of the most productive receivers in the XFL last season.

With a need or two potentially opening up at receiver, someone like Burnett could find himself in the middle of that competition. There is plenty of room to grow the roster right now, and adding someone who is coming off of spring football might only enhance the quality of competition. Burnett has not played in the NFL for nearly four years now, and he is biting at the bit to get back.

If he can have a similar output to last season, or even put up better numbers, then he will have a great shot at signing a try out deal. His in-game NFL experience is limited, but he has been able to make the most of his opportunities outside of the league to gain another shot. If the Steelers decide to add another receiver like last offseason, expect this player to get a chance.

Reuben Foster has Draft pedigree and could interest the black and gold

If you have read my USFL or XFL coverage before, you know my campaign for the Steelers to sign Reuben Foster in the past. He played for the Pittsburgh Maulers last season so there is a slight connection to the city already. He was able to help form a quality defense that got the Maulers to the championship game. They lost, but he did well.

Foster was one of the hardest-hitting linebackers coming out of college during that time. He was a late first-round pick after some off-the-field concerns started to arise. His NFL career never fully materialized and that started a rocky beginning of his career. The former first-round pick has a lot of talent still and that shows against the lesser competition in smaller leagues.

Most of his charges off the field were dropped at least the more serious ones. The Steelers would need to do plenty of homework on this linebacker before they brought him onto their team. It would likely cause a stir, but if the club was confident in their findings of his innocence, then this deal would make sense especially how the position currently is.

With Cole Holcomb still recovering from injury, Pittsburgh might need another option at linebacker even after the addition of Patrick Queen. Elandon Roberts played well last season, but he and Holcomb cannot be the only options to start. Foster has previous starting experience and should jump onto the field after a full season in the UFL.

The Steelers could sign one of the top UFL players in Abram Smith

One of the best offensive players in the XFL last season was none other than Abram Smith. The running back did well enough to earn an NFL shot with the Minnesota Vikings last preseason. Things did not work out and Abram is back in the newly formed UFL. He will be returning to the D.C. Defenders for another season with hopes of sticking on an NFL roster this time around.

He shows the talent that he possesses as a runner time and time again. Last season was special for him in the XFL as he led the league in rushing yards. Smith was dominant and someone that was going to get a shot at the next level. He has proven that he can produce at a high level as a runner, but he needs to show more to his game.

If Smith can show the Steelers that he can do more than just run the football during the UFL's season, then he will get plenty of signing opportunities. He must show more as a pass catcher coming out of the backfield as a safety valve for his quarterback. Smith also needs to show that he is willing to protect the passer when a blitzer is coming to attack.

Pittsburgh doesn't have a desperate need at the position but if either Najee Harris or Jaylen Warren gets hurt, then running back becomes an issue. Arthur Smith demands a lot for his running game in his offensive scheme, so having a strong stable of backs is the best outcome. Smith has to have a stronger season than last year which shows he is an all-around player.

Michael Joseph is a turnover versatile player that could fill different roles

From one Defender player to another as we go from Smith to Michael Joseph on the opposite side of the ball. He was one of the best defenders in the XFL last season and was a top turnover-maker. He also showed the ability to play at multiple spots in the secondary. That is always something NFL teams are looking for in their players.

The Steelers didn't show much interest in Joseph last offseason, but they did add a cornerback from the XFL. They signed Luq Barcoo, and he is still with the club. Barcoo remains his strongest as an outside cornerback. Joseph is someone who can play outside, inside, and at safety if called upon. Those are a lot of options for coaches to deploy him at.

Joseph was an undrafted free agent coming out of the small college of Dubuque back in 2018. He is still in the prime of his playing career and should have gotten an NFL contract last year. He totaled four interceptions and was one of the best members of the secondary that the XFL employed. He even landed on the All-XFL team for his efforts.

If Joseph can show his position flexibility more and remain at the high level of play as last season, then he will get his NFL shot. The Steelers need to show some sort of interest, especially with the depth concerns they have at safety and cornerback. Joseph could compete at safety, outside cornerback, and in the slot. That position flexibility will have him on many teams' radars.

Pittsburgh could sign Matt Corral if he has a strong season in the UFL

Few quarterbacks will participate in the UFL with a higher pedigree than Matt Corral. The former third-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Corral's career in the professional ranks has not worked out. He was selected by the Carolina Panthers, but things have not worked since he entered the league. It has caused him to look elsewhere.

After a failed stint with the Panthers due to injury, Corral was picked up by the Patriots. It was an odd situation for Corral entering the New England organization. He didn't seem to want to report after they claimed him on waivers. He eventually showed up but was cut and the Patriots tried to sign him onto their practice squad. It was a murky situation there.

It is mostly unknown what happened with the Corral episode in New England, but the fact that a former third-round pick is out of the NFL in two years is concerning. He was highly scouted by the Steelers when he was coming out of college, but they opted to take Kenny Pickett. They could always circle back to Corral.

The UFL should be a perfect place for him to grow back his confidence as a quarterback. If he fails as the starter for the Birmingham Stallions, then his football career might be coming to a close. Pittsburgh had a lot of interest in him, so don't rule out a signing if he shows some good things during spring football. He could challenge for the third spot on the roster, or at least be a training camp arm.

Dylan Moses could be a top choice for many NFL teams after the season

There are a lot of people joining the UFL with a lot to prove to talent evaluators. The former Alabama linebacker was seen as the next great player on their defense, only to have tons of injury trouble. Dylan Moses was plagued by them in college, which resulted in him eventually becoming an undrafted free agent. If he stayed healthy, he likely would have been a draft pick.

He ended up signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2021, but things didn't work out for the linebacker. He was placed on their non-injury list and has been out of football since. Sometimes getting away from the thing you love the most makes you recognize how much you truly love it. Moses decided to sign with the Memphis Steamboats this past winter.

He will try and come back and show that he is still a talented linebacker who can still make plays. He missed a ton of time with injury before leaving football, so he still has a ton to prove. Starting his comeback trail in the UFL might be the best route for him. Some might recognize his name based on his college years.

If Moses can stay healthy and produce at a high level, then the Steelers could show interest. One thing that he has not been able to accomplish throughout his career is staying healthy. He needs to find different ways to change his injury luck. The black and gold will show interest in adding him during training camp if he can produce this season in the UFL.

Next. Steelers Mock Draft: Free agency impacts their draft strategy. Steelers Mock Draft: Free agency impacts their draft strategy. dark