Since free agency began two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed six players as outside free agents while re-signing four of their own players that I would regard as notable. With roughly a month before the 2023 NFL Draft, general manager Omar Khan made it clear yesterday that there is still work to do and that they’ve got irons in the fire.
“Free agency’s not over”, he told Max Starks for the team’s website. “There’s a lot of good players still out there and we continue that evaluation process, continue to have conversations with several guys. And you’ll see over the next few weeks more guys might come available and we’ll stay ahead of that”.
One would imagine that Khan’s reference to ongoing dialogues with “several guys” includes some of the Steelers’ own players who remain unsigned. Some of those might include offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer, wide receiver Miles Boykin, inside linebacker Marcus Allen, and perhaps fullback Derek Watt. Defensive lineman Chris Wormley is recovering from a torn ACL, so it may be some time before that conversation comes up.
The team has already re-signed many of its own, as noted, including defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi. Other significant re-signings are defensive backs Damontae Kazee and James Pierre and tight end Zach Gentry, though some of those deals have not been made official yet.
Obviously, the more interesting topic, however, is which players from the outside the Steelers might be speaking to. Head coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday that they would be adding to the safety room and noted that it could come through free agency or the draft. He also left open the possibility of using free agency to address the third quarterback spot.
That doesn’t mean they might not have another signing of some note in the works. That could include a starting strong safety after they allowed five-year starter Terrell Edmunds to leave in free agency, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Pittsburgh has also expressed interest in one of its own former players, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who was released by the Tennessee Titans after two years there. They are expected to have him in for a visit. If brought back, he would be valuable insurance behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
While they’ve added one reserve tackle already in Le’Raven Clark, I wouldn’t rule out the Steelers adding more linemen, either at tackle or at center, though not of the starter variety. A veteran slot receiver or nickel defender would be some other potential targets for outside free agents, as would a defensive tackle.
As Khan alluded to, teams will be continuing to make roster moves over the course of the next several weeks. That will include terminating the contracts of some veterans whom they have replaced via free agency or whom they intend to replace via the draft. That will open up a second wave of targets to consider, and the Steelers will have to be ready for that if an available player could help the team.