The Steelers have quite the list of pending free agents in 2023, and it is highly unlikely they can retain them all. Which ones should the team prioritize? How many of them are worth bringing back at all? We are going to break it all down below!
The defense is likely to see the hardest hit, as three starters and several key reserves are due to hit the open market. Much of the talk will surround two former Steelers first-round picks: Terrell Edmunds and Devin Bush. Edmunds has improved each year as a Steeler, and he has become a huge part of this defense. Devin Bush is not the same player he was before the injury in 2020, but he took a step forward in 2022 and will hopefully get another shot in 2023.
On offense, not much will change, although everyone’s favorite topic will be Mason Rudolph. Zach Gentry and Myles Boykin are two young offensive chess pieces who could be in the team’s future, but with other options on the free agent market, the team may look to upgrade at one or both of those spots.
Today, we are going to break down only the unrestricted free agents (UFAs). Ages of players reflect what their age will be at the beginning of free agency. If you have thoughts on who the Steelers should bring back in 2023, let us know in the comments down below.
Terrell Edmunds (Age: 26)
Devin Bush (Age: 24)
Larry Ogunjobi (Age: 28)
This year, the message is pretty straightforward: bring back only the ones who have actual talent and are still young. The depth on the Steelers defense is subpar, and much of that can be addressed in the draft. However, the Steelers cannot afford to lose any of the aforementioned players.
Terrell Edmunds is one of the best in the business when it comes to covering the tight end. He has also become a much better defender against the run over the past couple seasons, making his value to the Steelers underappreciated. Devin Bush’s role changed in the defense in 2022, and while he did make progress in that role as the season went along, another year working in that same role may get him closer to the level we expected him to play at in his old role. Ogunjobi is 28, but he made the loss of Stephon Tuitt seem painless. He is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh, and I think it is only fair to offer him a respectable three-year deal.
Mason Rudolph (Age: 27)
Cameron Sutton (Age: 28)
Derek Watt (Age: 30)
Jesse Davis (Age: 31)
Tyson Alualu (Age: 35)
Marcus Allen (Age: 26)
Robert Spillane (Age: 27)
Malik Reed (Age: 26)
Chris Wormley (Age: 29)
Damontae Kazee (Age: 29)
Trenton Scott (Age: 29)
Karl Joseph (Age: 29)
Myles Boykin (Age: 26)
Zach Gentry (Age: 26)
Benny Snell, Jr. (Age: 25)
The Steelers have no reason to keep two veteran quarterbacks behind Pickett. End of story. Cameron Sutton is a tough one to cut, but he is not special in any one aspect of the game. On a good day, he is a number two corner, but I imagine the need for corners will force the Steelers to pay more to keep him than what they ideally should.
The Steelers already have a competent fullback in Connor Heyward if they choose to utilize him as such. Bringing back Watt at age 30 does not make sense to me. Also, did anyone even remember that Jesse Davis is a Steeler? This was one of the worst offseason moves, and it is not justifiable to bring him back. While Tyson Alualu has been a big part of this defense for several years now, it may time for the big guy to hang it up and call it a career. Reed may provide solid depth if he comes at a reasonable price, but the Steelers have done well finding intriguing pass rushers late in the draft, making Reed an unnecessary move. Allen, Spillane, and Wormley are all average backups on a good day, and it makes more sense to fill their spots on the roster with new faces.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out The Steelers Fix podcast every Tuesday. This week, Jeremy (@thebetz93) and I (@Andrew_Wilbar) broke down this exact topic, and we would love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts on our takes in the comment section below, and if you have not yet listed, you can do so by clicking on the player below: