Steelers receive tangible benefits by signing this undrafted free agent

Signing this undrafted free agent could give Pittsburgh a notable benefit during the 2024 season.
Charlotte v Florida
Charlotte v Florida / James Gilbert/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers made an unusual move involving one UDFA they signed once the draft ended. If you have not heard the news, the Steelers signed Julius Welschof, a linebacker/Defensive end from Charlotte. On the surface, this is not an unusual signing; however, it is interesting as the Steelers benefit from the signing.

Welschof's qualification for the IPP, or the International Pathway Program, is not just a mere detail. This program, established in 2017 and subject to new rules in 2024, could potentially have a significant impact on the Steelers' practice squad dynamics, especially if Welschof fails to secure a spot in the 53-man roster come September.

All 32 NFL teams can use this program when they find an international player they like. In 2024, the Steelers took advantage of this program, allowing players from other countries to become NFL players.

What is the IPP?

Established in 2017, the IPP is a unique pathway that provides international athletes with a coveted entry into the NFL. According to all NFL teams, including the Steelers, receive a host of tangible benefits from utilizing this program.

Any team that signs an eligible player in the NFL will award a 17th roster spot on its practice squad, exclusively reserved for international players. Furthermore, teams can elevate the international player a maximum of three times to the team's active roster over the course of the NFL season. Also, all teams receive a training camp roster exemption for a qualifying player.

Welschof qualified for this program because he is from Miesbach, Bavaria, Germany. He had a minimum of two years of U.S. high school eligibility and was, lastly, eligible for a prior NFL draft. Meeting the qualifications, he will qualify for the extra practice squad roster.

He will not be the only German player to qualify for this program. If he makes the active roster, he will join Jakob Johnson with the Raiders and David Bada with the Commanders, who also qualified for the program and made an active roster.

We must wait for the pre-season to see if he can make the 53-man roster or secure that 17th practice squad roster. However, Steelers Nation welcomes Julis to the Steel City and wishes him the best in pursuing a Steelers roster spot in the fall.