With the 2021 NFL Draft long gone, we can take a pretty good look at this roster and try and figure out which holes remain for this Pittsburgh Steelers. Defensively, it all comes down to depth, and back ups that still play a considerable amount of the snap percentages. Below are a list of defenders that could fit in pretty well in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme.
While the Steelers are sitting pretty good when it comes to the salary cap, they might only be able to add one or two players to their off-season roster without having to move more money. Thankfully with the dropped salary cap every other team in the league is feeling the same crunch. Therefore, a number of these players will be had for close to league minimum deals if they want to even continue their careers as professional football players.
Let’s get to the list...
10. Avery Williamson, MLB
Starting things off with a player the Steelers brought in midway through last season. Williamson would provide great depth beside Devin Bush, Vince Williams, and Robert Spillane. A year in the Steelers’ system and Williamson would be a force on this defense.
9. Steven Nelson, CB
The bridges on this one are definitely burnt. However, Nelson clearly hasn’t garnered much interest on the open market as he would have been signed by now. Perhaps he could crawl back to the Steelers with his tail between his legs. Never say never in the NFL.
8. Justin Houston, OLB
The Steelers need outside linebacker depth. Specifically a third down pass rusher/someone who can give either T.J. Watt or Alex Highsmith a series off every now and then. Justin Houston could be that guy. Even in his advanced years he is a dynamo off the edge.
7. Tre Boston, S
Boston is a player the Steelers could have signed for a number of years consecutively. But 2021 could finally be the year. Boston would fill in behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds and provide great safety depth.
6. Olivier Vernon, OLB
Vernon was having a career renaissance with the Browns before a ruptured Achilles tendon ended his season. The injury could keep him cost effective while also giving a second chance to a player who was performing well last year.
5. Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB
Robey-Coleman might just be the perfect player to replace Mike Hilton and give the Steelers some depth at corner. He’s physical in the slot and exactly the kind of player the Steelers would want to use in their sub-packages.
4. Melvin Ingram, OLB
Ingram battled knee injuries all of the 2020 season. If he can get back to full heath he would be one of the bigger names available on the free agent market. He still has gas in the tank and could really help the Steelers lackluster pass rushing depth.
3. Jeff Heath, S
The recently released Heath is a player the Steelers have had interest in the past. He would be the perfect No. 3 safety in the Steelers scheme and play a decent amount of snaps. Considering they had interest in Karl Joseph just a couple weeks ago I think this makes a ton of sense.
2. Ryan Kerrigan, OLB
Kerrigan is exactly what the Steelers need in their third pass rusher. He’s talented, played the backup role last year, and should be cost effective. If there was one player I would say this team should sign this offseason it would have to be Kerrigan.
1. Brian Poole, CB
Poole is everything the Steelers need in a nickel corner. He is by far the best fit remaining on the open market, and would make an immediate impact with this team. From physicality to cover skills,, Poole wouldn't skip a beat as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers
But what do you think? Who's the one defensive free agent you want the Steelers to target? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.