Source: Demarcus Ayers Turned Down Steelers Practice Squad Offer

While it surprised many to not see Demarcus Ayers’ name on the practice squad, a source close to the situation told Steelers Depot the team offered him a spot but Ayers declined.

As PennLive’s Jacob Klinger wrote recently, Ayers said he wasn’t planning on accepting any potential practice squad offer if he did not make the 53 man roster. We can confirm that’s how it played out, Ayers sticking to his word.

Instead, the Steelers signed wide receivers Marcus Tucker and Justin Thomas. Thomas was signed at the end of the preseason while Tucker is in his second year with the team.

Ayers, the team’s 7th round draft pick a year ago, missed most of the preseason with an unknown injury. He suited up for the finale, returning two punts for solid yardage. But it evidently wasn’t enough for him to make the roster in a crowded receiver room, even after the team dealt Sammie Coates to the Cleveland Browns.

As a rookie, Ayers caught six passes for 53 yards and a score after earning a late-season call-up. He caught another three passes in the playoffs.

Mike Tomlin praised him throughout the offseason and early on, it seemed like Ayers had a good chance to supplant Brown on punt returns. But health limited that opportunity and now, he’ll look to catch on somewhere else. Unclaimed on waivers, he’s now a free agent.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • T3xassteelers

    Maybe he wants to be closer to home in Houston. My only guess..

  • Melly

    I’d rather have Ayers on the 53 vs McCullers. But what do I know?!?

  • Chris92021

    If he doesn’t get claimed by anyone for the active roster, I wonder if he will join someone else’s practice squad. If he does, I imagine there will be some clowning.

  • Gizmosteel

    Who else on the team is writing checks their abiliites can’t cash?

  • SteelersDepot

    He already cleared waivers.

  • T3xassteelers

    Texans maybe?

  • John Pennington

    Well thats his decision and I hope he has good luck and makes it with another team maybe the steelers will keep the light on for him in the future.

  • Chris92021

    OK, now I wonder if he will swallow his pride and join someone else’s practice squad.

  • Alex Kozora

    I think he just wants to play on Sunday. Didn’t want to be in a crowded room.

  • Chris92021

    BTW TJ Ward signed with the Buccaneers for a 1 year, nearly 5 million dollars. Wish he went after him a bit harder but I guess we are rolling with Mitchell, Davis, Dangerfield, and (not so) Golden.

  • Simon Cutts

    He should have been on the 53. Don’t blame him. He wants to play and believes in his ability. Good luck to him.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    go on ayers, you have that attitude of le’veon bell. you’re not talented enough to be on the 53 anyways.

  • Steel B

    He wants an active roster paycheck. I don’t blame him.

  • capehouse

    He’ll look back on that decision as a huge mistake. Guarantee it. The Dri Archer mentality.

  • Boots

    I hope he isn’t missing the forest through the trees.

  • Scott

    Don’t understand why people are slamming this guy for not wanting to be on their ps. He knows how full the wr room is in Pittsburgh and obviously wants to go to a place where he has a better chance at playing time even if it’s another ps to start. Can’t blame the guy and wish him the best

  • dennisdoubleday

    Nothing wrong with that if he sees a quicker path to a roster spot. But he would probably be next wr up in the event of an injury, so it is a gamble

  • Dave D

    While I don’t blame him, the fact that he cleared waivers should have given him some indication of what the demand for his services were around the league (as far as a spot on a 53 goes). It’s a shame, but it’s hard to disagree with him on one hand, but seems terribly short-sighted on the other hand. Good luck to you Demarcus.

  • nutty32

    Source: DeMarcus Ayers is delusional.

  • LucasY59

    how much cap space does the Steelers have after signing Haden? 5 mightve been too expensive

  • Cross Fire

    His career is over.

  • melblount

    Really like Ayers and sad to see his ego is getting in the way of his NFL career. He may come to his sen$es when he learns he’s not likely to make anywhere near ~$7K/week flipping burgers.

  • Big White

    There is a man who wants to play football. Looked terrific in his opportunities.

  • T. Heflin

    Should’ve kept him instead of of DHB. Who’s returning kicks?

  • Big White

    This is probably best as the Steelers will draft a few early round WR’s next season.

  • NinjaMountie

    I guess he thinks more highly of his 4.7 40 self than others do. Joking…good luck.

  • WreckIess

    Not a terrible move. No real chance to get on the active roster in Pittsburgh. Bet on yourself and hope a team with less of a log jam picks you up.

  • John Noh


  • Smitty 6788

    Lol.. He must think he’s in high demand. Guy is delusional.

  • Steelers12

    Our wr core is stacked… He looking for better opportunities

  • Steelers12


  • Steelers12

    How can u hate on him for wanting too look for a better opportunity

  • RickM

    Agree. I’m sure if we didn’t have this deep a receiving corps he’d be back. He couldn’t make the 53 last year and now we have Martavis and JuJu as well. Barring multiple injuries to receivers, he would likely be buried on the PS all year. It’s circumstance, not a lack of loyalty to the team.

  • Conserv_58

    I don’t blame him for trying to make an active roster as full time receiver. He surprised a lot of us with how well he played when called upon late last season. The kid is confident in his abilities. I wish him well.

  • Chris92021

    Ayers looks like a guy who overestimated his own worth, gambled on himself and lost. Can’t blame him for trying to make an active roster. I will always remember him fondly for the way he played in the final two games of the 2016 season.

  • Nolrog

    There is plenty of cap room. That’s not remotely an issue.

  • Patricia McClary Harris


  • Chris92021

    According to Over The Cap, little over 10 million in cap space.

  • I was hoping both Ayers and Watson would remain with the team. Oh well. Sometimes you can’t get everything you want.

  • Boots

    I really don’t like losing him to keep DHB. Just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • NW86

    I don’t believe they have expanded from the “rule of 51” and added practice squads or IR yet. I think it’s going to be down to about $7M.

  • Nolrog

    I doubt it. If the Steelers have a need, they could sign him from anyone’s practice squad. Makes sense for him to look for an easier path back on someone’s 53.

  • AustinTxStillerFan

    In that case, you take a PS or 53 offer from another team before the Steelers, but seeing as how he is a free agent, he hasn’t gotten an offer. You take what you can get and maybe someone poaches him off our PS.

    I don’t trust the media to relate the situation properly any more than I trust the player to act professionally in that situation. How many of us heed what Aditi or Ian Rappaport say anymore? He could simply have said, “I want a shot. Can I take a few days to see if someone wants to add me to their 53 and get back to you?” In that case, the Steelers sign their 10 man PS, and wait to see if he wants to come back.

    If he is good enough for the PS to have been asked and refused, the Steelers can hardly fault him for taking a few days to look around. If he calls back and asks “PS still available?”, you dump whoever you asked after him and sign him. Not like the 53 or the PS either one are set in stone. And before you ask, I want someone who wants to play. We let FA’s test the market, even leave and come back, all the time.

    It remains to be seen whether he said, “No way 53 or bust!” or “can you give me a few days?” I hope it was the latter.

  • Chris92021

    Welcome to the team, JJ Wilcox!!! Depth at safety!!

  • Reggie Cunningham

    I agree

  • Nolrog

    The amount of hate for this kid is just incredible. Dude is looking for a way to feed his family. Who are you to tell him how? You don’t pay his bills.

  • Nolrog

    Wow, just wow.

  • AustinTxStillerFan

    Golden gone?

  • Chris92021

    No, I predict it will be Feiler gone and tomorrow when Bell reports for practice, Sutton be placed on IR. Golden sucks on defense but he is still a good special teams guy.

  • treeher

    Maybe we’ll see him again sometime. Players have returned before

  • RickM

    Agree. I’m not even sure he would be the first receiver if we drew from our PS. Tucker may have passed him.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Big Dan?

  • Chris92021

    I don’t see the team going into week 1 with only 5 defensive linemen but yeah, he could be cut too and everyone would understand.

  • Randell


  • Jeff Anoble

    My Demarcus Ayers Crystal Ball prediction:

    1-Your Young so you can and will be Arrogant in regards to your abilities.
    2-Your first setback in life. “No on claimed me off waivers?”
    3-But you rebound strong “I got a practice squad offer. I’m great and will be great!”
    4-You love life again “My current team is rebuilding to a championship level. It’s only a matter of time we get more then 2 wins.”

    5-The year 2020, an average family pulls up to the window at Mcdonald’s and Demarcus Ayers is there “Welcome to Mcdonald’s Can I take your order?” “I’m the best at what I do and God has a plan for me.”

  • capehouse

    You know how many waiver claims there were for WRs, and how many WRs were just signed to teams’ practice squads? Ayers wasn’t one of them. He just made life in the NFL much harder for himself.

  • Steelers12

    Yeah because i like ayers

  • Gautama Om

    Doesn’t matter how full the WR room is; if you’re good like you think you are then you’ll get your chance. The cream always rises to the top. In this case all he had to do is be patient on the PS, learn our system, and with a little luck he may get his chance this year (via injury) or next year if the roster changes which it always does.

    Impatience will hurt you bad.

  • Gautama Om

    It’s all impatience. He’s definitely NOT ready to start at the moment but if he waits for his time (e.g. injuries, roster changes next year etc) he may get his chance to shine. Now? he’s got zero opportunity.

    There’s been many players drafted much higher than he has that has gotten less opportunities. No patience here.

  • Dan

    He knows he won’t be more than a #4 WR/return man here. A WR needy team will probably scoop him up. I liked him, but there are so many bodies at WR right now.

  • Romel Roze

    I’d take him over Hayward-Bey

  • Romel Roze

    I agree. Just show some patience and continue learning from AB and Hines Ward. His turn will come.

    He is probably pissed that they choose Hayward-Bey over him. I would be too but don’t cut off your nose despite your face.

  • Sam Clonch

    Maybe scoop him up to be on THEIR PS, but if someone was looking to add him to their 53 man roster they would have claimed him off waivers. No one did.

  • Scott

    So your saying you would voluntarily stay a a job with several people in front if you for a certain position when you may have other opportunities. Look man I wanted him on the roster or ps but if he feels he can get a better shot somewhere else then good luck to him. If the cream always rises the why is dhb on the team still? Because he’s the coaches pet the dude can’t catch a cold let alone a pass. I get he’s good on special teams but that wouldn’t be enough for me to keep him there is other guys that can do that that are younger and cheaper. I’m sure Ayers knows the system fairly well being there over a year now. Like I said I wanted him to stick but good luck to him just don’t see why people are going to hate on him when the team would move on from him quickly if they saw a better alternative

  • Matt Manzo

    Too bad! He and Tucker would’ve been great additions next year.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    I don’t hate him. I’m just tired on nonsense attitudes on this team. Fact is he isn’t starter quality yet.

  • Real


  • I don’t blame him. He looked good enough to start.

  • Michael Conrad

    Most colleges are passing the ball . There will be plenty of DA’s and better to draft next year. He better understand that. Quicker then fast does not last.

  • I hope so. Go hangout with Senquez Golson.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Very true – but a bird in the hand ….. he may be thinking otherwise if the phone doesn’t ring.

  • Wayne Padgett

    They traded for safety J.J. Wilcox from Tampa Bay. Dangerfield I read is injured and had only 3 safety’s going into week 1 which is the reason behind the trade.

  • T R

    same. he knows how quick a practice squad player can jump to 53.. good luck.. but sure bout mid season or before he woudl been on 53 if he kept upward spiral and not injury..

  • Steelers12

    Yeah understandable but i can see his point as well. I think he would easily be our best return man if we resign him but that’s just my two cents

  • Lambert58

    And you can’t blame him.

  • Grandmaster Fistage

    With all due respect, Alex, “supplant” isn’t the appropriate word for Ayers taking over punt return duties from Brown. I don’t think anyone could supplant that dude out of anything

  • Lee Foo Young

    Didn’t Dri Archer take the same stance? How did that work out?

  • Douglas Andrews

    Good luck to Demarcus. Maybe he’ll latch on to another teams PS with a little less crowded WR room.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    Dri Archer/Demarcus Ayers. Something very familiar about those initials and situations.

  • Nathanael Dory

    Not really..

  • Real

    he’s putting his own desires,finances,etc. over the teams. that’s the definition of selfish.

  • AndreH

    Another wasted draft pick down the drain. And we got nothing to show for it. This guy was drafted coming out of college because of his ability to return punts and kicks. I don’t think he was given a fair chance to prove his worth.

  • Paul Rainey

    L. Bell

  • Steeler-Drew

    Unfortunately like some others his injury set him back. I remember reading declaring himself the Steelers punt returner before the last game. I thought that was overzealous until he looked electric with his only 2 opportunities. But I what don’t get is the rationale behind a few issues. Why was he only given 2 opportunities for the whole game and why he was not an option on kickoffs after marching out guys Touissant and Davis to return kicks. He started out returning kicks in college and was switched to punt returner but obviously he had the experience. Love the moves Tomlin made but he has mishandled the personnel in the kicking game more than once. He needs to get over I need a slow lumbering back with ball security to return kicks mentality. It’s clearly not working.

  • MC

    I just don’t know why he wasn’t given more opportunities to show his return ability and yet we saw duds like Fitz and Coates always getting the nod and I would hold my breath every time they did cause they were terrible.
    Is this oversight on Danny Smith at all? He doesn’t appear to me as someone who knows what they’re doing with the talent given to him.,

  • Nathanael Dory

    Yeah but also has probably a family to feed wich is really not

  • Steeler-Drew

    Yeah I don’t get it? We have heard about the desire to replace AB on punts for some time now. I’m sure we can safely say he would be much better on kicks than the jokers they were marching out. Having a player who could do both was worth a roster spot over a player like McCullers who would be inactive when they already have quality depth on the DL.

  • Gizmosteel

    Yup. hope we don’t have any other knuckleheads left.

  • Ryan Alderman

    I’d take practice squad over no squad, though. But agree.

  • Crowned

    meh I’m fine with Tucker.

  • Tom McConnell

    It won’t surprise me if he’s picked up in the next couple days. The kid can play & that has been noticed. The stable is full & with JuJu being drafted you can’t blame Ayers for wanting to try something.

  • MC

    Cam Sutton could of been a contender if he wasn’t injured and Tomlin didn’t have a thing about defensive players returning. Something that I never understood since the defender doesn’t have to go out for a series straight after their return like a RB or WR would.
    I think the staffs inability to trust a young guy has led to mediocre options that may be more secure with the football and make better decisions on whether to fair catch but don’t ever give that threat of returning it to the house.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    We picked up Wilcox in a trade. I think he is a solid safety. Has more ability than either Golden or Dangerfiled.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Another team could’ve signed him off of the Steeler’s practice squad. He would not have lost anything.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Yeah I don’t understand the logic for not using defensive players. Whatever it is, it’s a bunch of bunk. You put your best players on the field for the given positions that gives you the best opportunity to win. No need to complicate it any more than that.

  • Alex Kozora

    ….and that’s bad?

  • Bradshaw

    I would have kept Ayers over both DHB and Hunter but I’m not the coach. Once cut, I was really hoping Ayers would land on the PS. I guess that won’t ever happen.

    Unfortuantely, Ayers doesn’t realize he is not ‘ready’ and this ignorance lead to a decision that could easily cost him his career. For all anyone knows, he could be the next AB but he (and we) will likely never find out because he made a boneheaded decision on the ‘business side’ of football. I wish him the best but he really should have kept playing with the cards he was dealt

    Poor and sad decision on his part. Sad.

  • StarSpangledSteeler


  • Brenton deed

    Maybe he believes offensive players can generally catch and carry the ball?

  • Brenton deed

    For his sake I hope he’s not too proud to spend time on someone’s PS. I understand him seeing the steelers’ roster as hard to crack though.

  • John

    I don’t see this strategy working out for him.

  • Conserv_58

    DHB is like a booger. You can’t shake him off and he keeps sticking around.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Probably made a bunch of bonehead decisions in practices and Coates and Fitz didn’t.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    It’s his perogative.

  • Boots

    Hey man a booger would catch more Drops Hella Balls does

  • Stout

    DHB brings way more to the table than Ayers at this point. Ayers was a 7th rd pick, nothing lost, he’s taking a new route & that’s his choice. But yea, he’s not going to play in NE, either, unless another injury

  • Calvin Johnson

    Not selfish. I know this kid and his father. First one at the facility and the last one to leave. They should have kept him. Extremely humble but hungry. Felt like after one year still not getting chance to at least return punts then you have to move on!