With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror and one spring football league just about done, all 32 NFL teams are doing their homework on undrafted free agents and other players they may want to extend a minicamp invite to. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking a flier on an XFL standout, signing wide receiver Hakeem Butler to a one-year deal following a tryout at the club's rookie minicamp, the team announced Wednesday.
This year for the St. Louis Battlehawks, Butler caught 51 passes for 599 yards and a league-leading eight touchdowns. You may recognize Butler's name, as he was a former fourth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals out of Iowa State back in 2019. At 6-foot-5 and north of 220 pounds, some thought Butler could be an intriguing player in the NFL, but it hasn't worked out that way.
Butler didn't play in a game for the Cardinals, and was cut before the start of his second season in 2020. He spent a very short time on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad, before being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. In Philly, Butler was converted into a tight end, and played in his first career NFL games. However, he was waived ahead of the 2021 season.
Butler spent some time in the Canadian Football League before eventually finding his way to the Battlehawks of the XFL. Butler hasn't recorded a catch in the NFL, but his performance in the XFL certainly caught some eyeballs. He turns 27 later this month, and will have a second chance at the NFL.