Lucas Crowley awoke to a nontraditional wake-up call in his hotel room in Pittsburgh last week: A staff member from the Steelers was on the other line, informing him that he had been traded to the Washington Redskins.
“It’s definitely strange,” said the former Nease standout about the transaction. “It’s better than being cut.”
Crowley, a center, was traded from the Steelers to the Redskins in exchange for cornerback Dashaun Phillips. The Ponte Vedra native and NFL rookie joins his third NFL squad in four months after graduating from the University of North Carolina, where he was a four-year starter and two-time Rimington Trophy nominee, an award given annually to the top center in college football.
The 6-foot-3, 290 pounder signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in May. He worked with the Cardinals throughout Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and rookie summer workouts. On the first day of training camp in July, however, team staff notified him that he was being released to make room for an additional linebacker.
“When I was cut from Arizona, you don’t know what your next option will be due to the fact you don’t have a home,” said Crowley. “Your name goes on the waiver wire. You wait for a few weeks, a day or however long it takes.”
For Crowley, it took about two-and-a-half weeks to find his next home. Upon being cut from the Cardinals, he returned home to Ponte Vedra to train. He received his first call from the Carolina Panthers, who he worked out with but never received any further interest from. The Pittsburgh Steelers were next in line. They flew Crowley up to the Steel City where he signed and spent the next two-and-a-half weeks, before being traded to Washington via hotel wake-up call.
Four months into his NFL career, Crowley has played for three teams and has been both cut and traded.
“Everybody you talk to says, ‘Welcome to the NFL,’” said Crowley. “It’s just kind of the way it goes for some people.”
Although it’s been a tough journey, Crowley is focusing on the positives. He said he’s fortunate to have learned three different NFL offenses and built relationships with people around the league.
He’s also learned to take advantage of every opportunity, because he said you never know when it will be the last.
“You never know what’s going to happen in this job,” he said. “You never know when someone else needs you or when you’ll be let go.”
That’s exactly the mentality Crowley is taking into Washington, whose fourth and final preseason game is Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m. versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Every rep I get, I want to take full advantage of it,” he said. “I want to do the best I can and show the coaches I’m worth a spot on this team and that I can help the team out.”