Kinnel joins defensive tackle Cavon Walker and offensive tackle Jarron Jones as recent XFL imports for the Steelers after the league's season was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Walker and Jones both played for the New York Guardians, while Kinnel appeared in all five games for the DC Defenders. Kinnel's history at the pro level is thin, but he played collegiately at the University of Michigan, where he was a four-year letterman from 2015-18, two-time All-Big Ten honoree, one-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 11, 2017) and team captain in 2018. He played three of his four years alongside 2019 Steelers draft picks Devin Bush and Zach Gentry.
He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Bengals before being waived in August of 2019.
While Kinnel won't challenge Minkah Fitzpatrick or Terrell Edmunds for a starting spot, he could work his way onto the 53-man roster, much like Alliance of American Football (AAF) import Kameron Kelly did last offseason. The Steelers once again lack depth at safety heading into 2020, with Fitzpatrick, Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen currently under contract.
Last year, Kelly beat out Allen, Dravon Askew-Henry, P.J. Locke and Marcelis Branch to make the 53-man roster. He saw regular playing time, too, after Sean Davis (who recently signed a one-year deal with the Redskins) went down with an injury. Kelly, however, was arrested and cut by the team after making terroristic threats in late December on the South Side.
Kinnel is certainly not the favorite in this group, but there's a path for him to contribute. Now he needs to show up and show out, proving he belongs.
And hey, he already has a history of terrorizing Cincinnati, so Steelers fans should appreciate that: