The Pittsburgh Steelers will be in the market at inside linebacker, one way or another, even if it ends up being re-signing their own. While Myles Jack is under contract, it’s for more than they might be willing to pay at $8 million. Both Robert Spillane and Devin Bush are due to be unrestricted free agents.
In other words, it’s an ideal time to re-evaluate the position and decide what they want to do. They may want to consider a more wholesale makeover. And current Tennessee Titans beat reporter (and former Steelers reporter) Jon Burton believes they would be wise to consider Titans linebacker David Long.
“Even though he is an undersized middle linebacker, he’s feisty, he’s physical, he plays with an edge”, he told Andrew Fillipponi on 93.7 The Fan last week. “He would fit in nicely with the Steelers. I think Steelers fans would love that guy”.
A 2019 sixth-round draft pick out of West Virginia, Long is just 5’11, playing at a listed 227 pounds. He’s had some injury (and COVID-19) issues that have affected his availability, however; he’s played just 22 games over the past two seasons, missing the last five games of the 2022 season with a hamstring injury.
But he played about 90 percent of the snaps up to that point, registering 86 tackles. That includes seven tackles for loss, a career high. Although he didn’t register a sack or a forced fumble, he has two interceptions in each of the past two seasons along with a combined 11 passes defensed in that time. Yet Burton isn’t clear on how interested Tennessee is in keeping him.
“I’m not sure if the Titans are gonna go out of their way to try to re-sign him”, he said. “It doesn’t feel like they are Talking to him on [locker room cleanout] day several weeks ago, it didn’t seem like he was all that confident he was gonna be sticking around”.
Long is due to be an unrestricted free agent unless the Titans re-sign him before then. One player who is immediately available is another Titans linebacker, Zach Cunningham, whom they recently released with a failed physical.
Burton cautioned going after Cunningham (“buyer beware”, he said), but reiterated his belief that Long would fit in Pittsburgh. “but I would take a serious look at David Long Jr.”, he said. “if the Titans don’t [re-sign him]. He’s got that attitude and physical nature that Steelers fans love from their linebackers”.
It will be interesting to see what the market is like for Long, but still I’m not sure how seriously Pittsburgh might take a look at him. They wouldn’t sign him and keep Jack, but as they did last season, they could add a player in free agency before making a cut. Jack was the addition in 2022 with Joe Schobert the cut; he could be on the wrong side of that this time.