While the Pittsburgh Steelers moved quickly enough to keep questionable talents like Jordan Berry and Daniel McCullers on the roster, it would appear they lost their only remaining free agent of any real worth on Tuesday after L.J. Fort agreed to a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles signed seven-year veteran LB L.J. Fort, who has played for the Browns, Bengals, Seahawks and Steelers, mainly as a backup and special teamer.— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) March 14, 2019
Fort got a $875,000 signing bonus and base salaries of $1.025 million in 2019 and $1.5 million in 2020 and 2021.
Steelers ILB L.J. Fort signs a three-year deal with the Eagles that can reach up to $10 million with playing time incentives, according to a source. The deal includes $1.9 million in guarantees. Steelers made efforts to keep him but he had other suitors.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 14, 2019
Fort has signed a contract that could be worth as much as $10 million over the length of the deal if he meets playing time incentives, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, and one that should be worth at least $5 million. But given that the Steelers were willing to sign Anthony Chickillo to a two-year contract worth $8 million earlier in the week, some will reasonably question what Pittsburgh sees in the outside linebacker that makes him more valuable to the Steelers than Fort.
Arriving in Pittsburgh as a free agent signing during training camp in 2015, Fort eventually developed into the starter ahead of Jon Bostic towards the end of the 2018 season having already carved out a role on special teams and as a sub-package defender on passing downs. Fort recorded 83 tackles, three sacks and one interception in four years with the Steelers, with 48 tackles and one sack coming in his final season.
Without him on the roster, the team’s depth at inside linebacker is left looking rather bleak, but considering the quality of the remaining veteran options still available, it would appear that Pittsburgh intends fixing their issues at the position via the draft instead.