The Steelers have claimed wide receiver and return man Jacoby Jones off waivers, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). According to La Canfora, Pittsburgh is hoping the former Raven can give the team a spark in the return game. In a press release, the club confirmed the move, noting that Dri Archer has been waived to create room on the roster.
Jones was released by the Chargers earlier this week, less than eight months after signing a two-year, $5.5MM deal with the Bolts back in March. After averaging 30.6 yards per kickoff return and 9.2 yards per punt return for Baltimore last season, Jones saw those averages dip to just 21.4 and -0.8 for San Diego in 2015. The Steelers will be hoping for something closer to those ’14 numbers from Jones once he arrives in Pittsburgh.
By claiming Jones on waivers rather than waiting for him to clear and attempting to sign him, the Steelers will take on his old contract. The structure of the deal won’t be bad on his new team though, since his overall base salary for 2015 is just $900K, as opposed to $3MM in 2016. Unless Jones has an incredibly second half in Pittsburgh, he’s unlikely to return at that price next season.
Since waiver order is determined by current records, with the league’s worst teams getting a higher priority, the Ravens had an opportunity to claim the 31-year-old before the Steelers did, but it appears Jones’ old team passed on him. Prior to the trade deadline, Jones would have immediately been free to sign with another team if he had been cut, but from now until the end of the season, all players – including veterans – must pass through waivers before becoming free agents.
As for Archer, the Steelers’ third-round pick from 2014 hasn’t seen much action since joining the franchise, with all 17 of his offensive touches coming in his rookie year. He had been Pittsburgh’s primary kick returner this season, averaging 25.3 yards on 14 attempts. Archer should be a candidate to join the Steelers’ practice squad if he clears waivers.