Steelers sign free agents Davis, Sensabaugh
Addressing three needs with two strokes of the pen, the Steelers got a kick returner, backup running back and depth at cornerback Monday when they signed free agents Coty Sensabaugh and Knile Davis.
Sensabaugh, a 28-year-old corner, agreed to a two-year contract. Davis, a 25-year-old back/returner, signed a one-year deal. They became the second and third outside free agents signed by the Steelers since the NFL calendar year began March 9.
The Steelers entered the week $19.854 million under the $167 million salary cap.
Most of Sensabaugh's five-year experience was as a nickel corner, but he said he played on the outside during the past two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants. Steelers nickel corner William Gay struggled in the AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots.
"I came here to help these guys get two games better," Sensabaugh said.
The Steelers were the only team Sensabaugh visited since hitting the market. He was drawn to them because of ties to Mike Munchak, the former Titans coach. Sensabaugh also played under former Steelers assistants Dick LeBeau and Ray Horton in Tennessee.
"I was watching some film with (defensive coordinator Keith) Butler from my Tennessee days, and the film is pretty much exactly the same, just different terminology," Sensabaugh said. "I'm looking forward to being in a system I'm comfortable and familiar with. Hopefully, it will bring out the best in me."
Sensabaugh has made 29 starts in 72 career games, with two interceptions. He was Tennessee's fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Clemson. He hit free agency in 2016 and signed a three-year deal with the Rams that provided a guaranteed $4.5 million.
Sensabaugh, however, lost his starting job just two games into the season and was released after four games. He spent the rest of the year as a backup with the Giants.
Davis not only will back up Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell, he's expected to become the team's top kickoff returner. It was his role with the Kansas City Chiefs — he also took snaps behind Jamaal Charles — until rookie phenom Tyreek Hill took away his return duties last season.
The Steelers had five players return kicks last year, led by Fitzgerald Toussaint's 13 attempts for a 21.4 average. The Steelers ranked 17th in return average (21.5 yards) last season.
Davis has two career kickoff returns for touchdowns in the regular season and a career 26.8 average.
"I've done well in the past with kickoff returns and feel I can come here and help the Steelers out," Davis said. "I feel that can be a big role for me."
The Chiefs' third-round pick in 2013 out of Arkansas, Davis has 805 career rushing yards with 11 touchdowns. He also has 34 career receptions with one touchdown. He filled in for an injured Charles during the 2014 season when Davis had a career-high 463 yards rushing that included two 100-yard games.
"I feel like they are confident I can (complement Bell)," Davis said. "I've had to fill in before. I've had 100-yard games in this league. I've done well in this league, and I'm prepared for whatever comes in the future."
Like Sensabaugh, Davis was well-traveled last season. The Chiefs traded him to Green Bay for a seventh-round draft pick in October, but Davis was released after two games. He spent one day on the New York Jets' roster before re-signing with Kansas City.
Davis, who earned $700,000 last season, finished with only 18 carries and 10 kickoff returns.
"I feel like this is a good situation, a winning team," Davis said. "It's good to be a part of a winning team and a winning tradition."
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.