The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the final phase of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and I don’t think any fan who pays attention to the team thinks their roster is completely set. Despite the national narrative, the Steelers do have some salary cap space available, and while the number, which is around $9 million, will go down after they sign the final three players of their 2021 NFL Draft class, they can still make some moves.
On top of their current salary cap space remaining, they can always increase that number by restructuring a contract or two, as well as extending other players. The question which remains, if the Steelers are going to go out and make a move, who do they get and what position?
Fans will suggest if the Steelers are going to add a player, it would be from one of the following positions:
But would offensive tackle make the list? The Steelers are bringing back Chukwuma Okorafor, in his final year of his rookie contract, who started 15 games last season at right tackle. But the hope is Okorafor will slide from right tackle to left tackle after signing Zach Banner to a two-year contract this offseason.
Is Okorafor capable at left tackle? That is up for debate, considering he hasn’t played the position since he was in college, but this is a reason why ESPN’s Bill Barnwell predicts the Steelers will sign Russell Okung to man the left tackle spot in 2021.
See the logic behind Barnwell’s prediction:
Russell Okung, OT
Prediction: Signs one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers
One more first-rounder to complete the set. I’m stunned that Okung hasn’t yet signed a contract, given that he’s the last useful left tackle standing on the open market in a league where a handful of competitive teams still need to lock down their quarterback’s blindside. Okung missed time with a pulmonary embolism in 2019 and a calf injury last season, but he was a solid left tackle when on the field.
The Steelers have been pinching pennies just to get under the salary cap, but if there’s any position where they need to spend money, it’s at left tackle. Pittsburgh let Alejandro Villanueva move on this past season, leaving Chukwuma Okorafor as the favorite to start on the line’s most important position. Okorafor started last year at right tackle after Zach Banner went down injured, but Ben Roethlisberger would be staring down one of the least imposing sets of starting tackles in the league on paper without an addition. It might take voidable years or a Dogecoin option to get the deal done, but Okung would be a major upgrade for a team that has one more shot with Roethlisberger.
If the Steelers could afford Okung, and Okung is healthy, it could be a perfect set up for the Steelers at the tackle position. It would likely lead to the end of the road for Joe Haeg in Pittsburgh, but would create a battle at left tackle between Okung and Okorafor. The loser would be a very experienced swing tackle, and that is a good problem to have.
Do you think the Steelers will still make a move, and if so, what player/position will they target? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!