Sports

2022 NFL free agency: 49ers, Packers among teams interested in Steelers receiver Ray-Ray McCloud


A year after leading the NFL in return yardage, Steelers wide receiver and special teamer Ray-Ray McCloud is expected to have a solid market in 2022 free agency. Pittsburgh has contacted McCloud’s representation to express a strong interest in re-signing the veteran, according to a source close to the situation, but at least six other teams — including playoff contenders in the 49ers and Packers — have their sights set on McCloud ahead of the league’s legal tampering period, which begins March 14.

The Colts, 49ers, Lions and Packers all expressed interest in the 25-year-old McCloud during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, according to sources, and are among teams expected to make an offer to the wideout once the negotiating window officially opens.

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Indianapolis has two notable receivers hitting the market in T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal. The 49ers have been searching for WR depth for years and could lose at least three pass catchers to free agency. And the Packers have been considering more competition for former third-rounder Amari Rodgers, who spent most of 2021 as Green Bay’s top return man.

McCloud told CBS Sports in 2020 that he “wouldn’t want to be anywhere” but Pittsburgh after short-lived stints with the Bills and Panthers. He is prepared, however, to weigh his options after playing under two straight one-year deals with the Steelers.

Signed by Pittsburgh in August 2020, McCloud has been one of the league’s most productive return specialists since joining the Steelers. Originally a sixth-round pick of the Bills in 2018, the Clemson product finished fourth in the NFL in combined return yardage in 2020, just behind All-Pros Andre Roberts and Cordarrelle Patterson. In 2021, McCloud led the league in both punt-return yardage and combined return yardage, finishing sixth with 9.7 yards per punt return.

This past season, McCloud also posted a career-high 39 catches for 277 yards, drawing 66 targets from Ben Roethlisberger after starting slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster went down with an injury.





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