The Pittsburgh Steelers might be in their Dollar Menu phase of talent acquisition during the second wave of free agency, but they’re still finding ways to add contributors. They recently signed two depth pieces to the defense, including a run-stuffing nose tackle named Breiden Fehoko. NFL analyst Brian Baldinger is a fan.
“He’s just a widebody, Polynesian background, loves the game of football, his dad loved it. It’s kind of in the family”, he said on the Cook and Joe Show in 93.7 The Fan this week. “He’s not gonna go get you sacks and push the pocket, but when you’re looking at a team that wants to run the ball like Cleveland or someone like that, you want him in the middle just taking up space”.
“There’s a role for Breiden Fehoko in this league and he knows what it is and he’s good at it”.
A 26-year-old fourth-year veteran, Fehoko was signed as a college free agent in 2020 by the Los Angeles Chargers, where he has spent the past three seasons, logging 420 snaps. He saw a career-high 279 snaps during the 2022 season, including three starts, with 23 tackles.
The Honolulu native played two seasons as Texas Tech before transferring to LSU. He won the national championship with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase at the end of the 2019 season. But Burrow was the first-overall pick in 2020. Fehoko went undrafted.
Up to this point, he has spent much of his career on the Chargers’ practice squad, but he’s still managed to play in 19 games during that time, occasionally being swung up to the 53-man roster. He spent nearly two months on the practice squad a year ago before being called up in November for good.
Fehoko was a restricted free agent this offseason and Los Angeles elected not to tender him. The low-level tender would have cost over $2.6 million and would have only provided the Chargers with the right of first refusal if another team signed him to an offer sheet.
It is unclear how much interest they had in bringing back the fourth-year veteran, but he only signed a one-year contract with the Steelers. It’s likely to be for the veteran minimum, one would imagine, but we won’t know for sure until contract details surface.
With Tyson Alualu an unrestricted free agent who may retire and may not be re-signed even if he doesn’t, the Steelers are in need of reinforcing the defensive interior. They retain Montravius Adams, who took over the starting job from Alualu early last season, but otherwise they remain thin with some practice squad bodies in Renell Wren and Jonathan Marshall.
Fehoko provides them with some meat in the middle with NFL experience, but hearing Baldinger describe his lack of pass rush would be no surprise to anybody who has followed our coverage of the signing since it was first reported.