2024 NFL Season: Undrafted free agents can be Super additions

Feb 1, 2009; Tampa, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) intercepts the ball
Feb 1, 2009; Tampa, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) intercepts the ball / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL offseason continues as teams continues to upgrade their rosters via veteran free-agent bargains.

In the last week or so, the Miami Dolphins added veteran wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The revamped Buffalo Bills signed linebacker Deion Jones, defensive end Dawuane Smoot, and wide receiver Chase Claypool. The Dallas Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott have staged a reunion. Jim Harbaugh’s Los Angeles Chargers added wideout D.J. Chark.

Meanwhile, teams have been busy since the conclusion of the April’s draft adding players who were not among the 257 players selected. There have been plenty of success stories throughout pro football history regarding performers who weren’t drafted. For various reasons and also due to the fact that the draft has now been reduced to seven rounds (starting in 1994), there have been a total of 22 members of the Hall who went undrafted.

But wait, there’s more.

Record-setting plays by undrafted free agents

One of those aforementioned undrafted free agents that has a bust in Canton, Ohio, is quarterback Kurt Warner. Unfortunately for him and the Arizona Cardinals, he was on the wrong end of a super play by another undrafted player. On what proved to be the final play of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII, Steelers’ outside linebacker James Harrison picked off a Warner pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. It remains the longest interception return in Super Bowl history.

Three years earlier, another Steelers’ player that was not drafted set a Super Bowl record for the longest run in the 58-year history of this championship series. Willie Parker raced 75 yards for a score in the third quarter of Pittsburgh’s 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field.

Two years before that, the New England Patriots edged the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Houston. In a losing effort, undrafted Panthers’ quarterback Jake Delhomme connected with wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad for an 85-yard touchdown – the longest completion in Super Bowl history.

This is just skimming the surface when it comes to the contributions made by undrafted players on Super Bowl Sunday and throughout an NFL season. Who knows who will come up big from this year’s group?