Following the wild moves the Steelers made at their guard position, they have found themselves with a surplus of salary cap space. The team historically plays to the salary cap max with $5-7 million in space to fill holes throughout the year. Following the signing of Trai Turner, the Steelers sit with roughly $12.5 million in space, and should spend another $5.5-7.5 million dollars before the season starts. Here are some of the names the Steelers could look to bring in with this new found cap space.
The most important spot the Steelers need to fill with this new found cap space is their outside linebacker position. The primary backup at this position plays close to 40% of the defensive snaps, at minimum. This means the Steelers still need to greatly improve on what they currently have on the roster, otherwise they will be exposed when T.J. Watt or Alex Highsmith need a rest.
Justin Houston is the best edge rusher remaining and was a stud for the Colts in 2020. It will come down to if he is willing to accept a slightly lesser role. But the Steelers may be able to offer him the money he wants.
The second best edge rusher is Melvin Ingram. Ingram is the same age as Houston, but has been plagued by injury in recent years. This is the guy that might be more likely to take a lesser role, but comes with his injury flaws. It would still be an interesting addition and definitely improve the position.
Hooker is a Pittsburgh native and someone the organization has already worked out in the past. Clearly the team has some interest in signing a safety this offseason, as they have brought in a number of players on free agent visits. Hooker is also an injury prone player, but has played at an extremely high level. Hooker’s addition would allow the Steelers to move Minkah Fitzpatrick around pre-snap and let Hooker roam the deep secondary.
The absolute best available corner that fits the Steelers is Steven Nelson. Now, the bridges are extremely burnt between the two sides, but never say never. Nelson once claimed to have all these contracts offers but nothing has materialized. Maybe the Steelers could offer him something just to play in the NFL again. But for right now I think the Steelers like Cam Sutton better.
If the Steelers want to improve their offensive line there are a number of players still available. Schwartz has contemplated retirement this offseason, but nothing has happened. He was a serviceable tackle protecting Patrick Mahomes before injuries shortened his 2020 season.
If the Steelers still don’t think they have the right guy to play the slot corner role, one stud is still on the market. Brian Poole is a dynamo at the nickel spot. He hits, and defends receivers like it’s nobody’s business. He may have a better all-around game than Mike Hilton, but would have to improve his pass rushing skills to seamlessly replace Hilton.
Okung once said the Steelers don’t have enough money to afford him, well they have a bunch of money now. Offensive linemen are going off the free agent board at roughly $3 million, so I wouldn't expect Okung to receive any more than that. The Steelers would have another sure fire piece at tackle and further sure up their offensive line.
If the Steelers are uncomfortable with Kendrick Green as their starting center, they still have another option. Austin Reiter was the point man for back-to-back Chiefs Super Bowl runs. He has the experience, and talent to lead an NFL team’s offensive line, and he could do so for the Steelers.
We are getting into the very unlikely category, but Adrian Peterson has said he wants to play for the Steelers. He is also a good friend and training partner of Najee Harris and has played the mentor back role the last number of seasons in his NFL career. He has also been a very good short yardage back, which if the Steelers give up on Benny Snell they would have an option at replacing him.
The fit doesn't make any sense, but the name value and experience is something many Steelers fans have been calling for all offseason. Richard Sherman would make up one half of the oldest corner back duo in the league standing opposite of Joe Haden. It could be a lot of fun watching the old guys go to work.
But what do you think? Which of these players should the Steelers sign? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.