Cavon Walker has parlayed his XFL success into an NFL opportunity. Walker, a former member of the New York Guardians who led the XFL with 4.5 sacks, has signed a one-year deal with the Steelers, as reported by Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Walker is one of four former XFL players the Steelers have signed this week. On Wednesday, Pittsburgh also signed former Defenders safety Tyree Kinnel and former New York Guardians offensive tackle Jarron Jones, according to ESPN's Brooke Pryor. On Thursday, the team signed former Dallas Renegades outside linebacker Christian Kuntz, according to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly.
Along with his sack total, Walker, a defensive lineman, also tallied 19 tackles, five tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits during his time with the Guardians. Walker's success this winter led to his inclusion in the Midseason All-XFL Team.
Walker, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 284 pounds, played collegiately at Maryland, recording 89 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble during his years with the Terrapins. The Steelers are looking to add depth to a defensive line that lost former starting DT Javon Hargrave last week. The team's third-round pick in the 2016 draft, Hargrave signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Eagles shortly after the start of the league's new year. Shortly after losing Hargrave, Pittsburgh sent a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Ravens in exchange for veteran defensive tackle Chris Wormley and a 2021 seventh-round pick.
Kinnel was a teammate of Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush at Michigan, recording 138 tackles during his final two seasons with the Wolverines. Kinnel, who tallied 17 tackles during the XFL's shortened season, failed to make the Bengals' 53-man roster last summer after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent.
Jones, a 6-foo-6, 320-pound offensive tackle out of Notre Dame, has previously spent time with the Bills, Cowboys, Giants and Seahawks. Kuntz, a local product who played college football at Duquesne, was a long snapper for the Renegades this past winter. He switched from linebacker to long snapper after he was released by the Patriots during his rookie training camp. Kuntz spent time with the Steelers last preseason (he long-snapped during the team's preseason finale against the Panthers) but failed to make the 53-man roster.
Pittsburgh made several reported transactions during the first week of free agency. They inked former Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron to a two-year, $12 million contract. Pittsburgh also signed former Eagles/Chiefs offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, a starter on Kansas City's 2019 Super Bowl championship team, to a two-year deal shortly after the start of free agency. The Steelers then sent a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Ravens in exchange for veteran defensive tackle Chris Wormley and a 2021 seventh-round pick. Pittsburgh has also signed veteran fullback Derek Watt -- the younger brother of T.J. Watt -- two a two-year contract.
The Steelers were able to make these moves after QB Ben Roethlisberger, kicker Chris Boswell, cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, and tight end Vance McDonald cleared about $35 million in cap space after they restructured their contracts just before the start of the new league year.