Monday, May 23, 2022

Steelers sign Duke’s Mataeo Durant to franchise’s largest-ever UDFA contract for a running back

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USATSI

Mataeo Durant’s patience was rewarded shortly after the 2022 NFL Draft came to a close. While he did not hear his name called during the draft, Durant was contacted after the draft by the Steelers, who signed him to the largest undrafted rookie free agent contract for a running back in franchise history. Durant received a $15,000 signing bonus after signing with the Steelers, according to the Pro Football Network. 

During his final two seasons at Duke, Durant rushed for 2,058 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging nearly 5.5 yards per carry. He also caught 55 passes for 480 yards and four touchdowns during his final three seasons with the Blue Devils. Durant’s 1,241rushing yards last season set the school’s single-season record. 

A first-team All-ACC selection in 2021, Durant had 10 100-yard rushing performances at Duke that included a career-best 255 yards and three touchdowns last season against Charlotte. His breakout performance occurred the previous season against Syracuse, when he rumbled for 163 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Blue Devils to victory. 

Durant, who at his pro day ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, is a threat to go all the way whenever he hits the open field. He is a decisive runner who possesses good vision out of the backfield. At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Mataeo is strong enough to absorb punishment while also dishing out some of his own. 

Durant is heading to a team that did not select a running back during the draft a year after selecting Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick. While Harris is the unquestioned starter, Durant will compete with Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland and Trey Edmunds for a spot on the team’s 53-man roster coming out of training camp. 

Pittsburgh loaded up on offensive talent during the NFL Draft. Along with selecting former Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick, the Steelers drafted receivers George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. They also selected fullback/tight end Connor Heyward before closing out the draft with the selection of quarterback Chris Oladokun

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