Former NFL receiver Demarcus Ayers opts out of Riders contract

Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Demarcus Ayers has opted out of his CFL contract hoping for another NFL shot. 

Ayers signed with the Riders in February, it was an agreement through the 2021 season, which means the green and white retain his rights in Canada. He spent three seasons in the NFL from 2016 to 2018 with the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ayers was selected in the seventh round, 229th overall of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Steelers and went on to play four games with Pittsburgh — two in the regular season and two in the post-season. Ayers caught his first professional touchdown on January 1, 2017 helping lift Pittsburgh over Cleveland 27-24.

He ended that season with 80 yards receiving on nine receptions and one touchdown. The 26-year-old has played in 12 NFL pre-season games and spent a part of 2019 with the now-defunct Alliance of American Football’s San Antonio Commanders. 

Ayers was a decorated NCAA athlete at the University of Houston where he played three seasons at receiver while being utilized as a kick returner. In his junior year, the Texas native was named to Phil Steele’s American Athletic Conference first team as both a punt returner and receiver.

Ayers was selected to the AAC first-team as a receiver and return specialist and was on the Biletnikoff Award watch list for his 1,222-yard, six touchdown season as a pass catcher as well as for his efforts as punt returner where he returned 28 punts for 290 yards and a touchdown.

The versatile Ayers also threw a 20-yard touchdown that season. As a freshman in 2013, he was named the AAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year after leading the conference with an average 27.6 yards per kick return for a total of 1,021 yards and a touchdown – a university freshman record – and had five games with at least 100 kick return yards.

Ayers just needs another opportunity to show he can make plays in the NFL. If not the five-foot-nine, 182-pound Ayers has a placeholder spot in Saskatchewan.