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The state of the Pittsburgh Steelers Outside Linebacker position

Breaking down every Steelers position group before we hit free agency.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and NFL for that matter, have officially hit the offseason. With a month before contracts officially expire, and the new league year begins, the Steelers will need to start game planning their future.

In this series we will look at every position group of the Pittsburgh Steelers and what the team will do with the players that were on the 2021 roster, and how they should rebuild the spots heading into the 2022 season!

Today we dive in on perhaps the best position group on the team and focus on the Outside Linebackers. Spearheaded by the new face of the franchise, T.J. Watt, the Steelers are primed to have great edge rushers for years to come. But could the Steelers make this group even better, or is the status quo the way to go? All this and more below.

The 2021 Roster

NFL: JAN 16 AFC Wild Card - Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

T.J. Watt (4-Years $31.1 Million)
Alex Highsmith (2-Years $1.16 Million)
Derrek Tuszka (1-Year $895K)
Taco Charlton (UFA)

Heading into the 2021 season the Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers looked a whole lot different. With T.J. Watt an active sit-in during training camp during his contract negotiation, Melvin Ingram saw a bigger roll with the club and Alex Highsmith was again reprising his role on the opposite side of the line. The Steelers’ backups included Jamir Jones and Quincy Roche, and from the outside looked to be in a very good shape. Almost to the point of having too much depth on its roster. However, things quickly changed for the Steelers. At the end of training camp Watt was back after signing his new contract, Melvin Ingram was the rotational player, and the Steelers chose Jones over Roche. After that, the Steelers would eventually claim Derek Tuszka off waivers, and Melvin Ingram was demanding a trade out of the city.

Despite all of the player movement, the Steelers would still feature the best defensive player in the entire sport at the position. T.J. Watt‘s 2021 season was one for the record books, like we all already know. On top of being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), Watt single-handedly won the Steelers a number of games this past season. Across from him, Alex Highsmith slowly built upon his rookie season, and both Derrek Tuszka and Taco Charlton added some quality depth behind them. All in all, it was a good season for this position group in black and gold.


Should they look to add a player

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For once, I really don’t think the Steelers need to spend any time re-evaluating the edge rushing spot. Simply bringing back Taco Charlton on a minimal deal will do the trick for the position. However, if the Steelers deem an edge rusher the best player available on the board in the latter half of the 2022 NFL Draft, I would welcome the move with open arms. You can never have enough good edge rushers in the game of football. Having the best one already on the roster already helps, and Highsmith is developing in the right way. Behind them Tuszka was taking strides as the year went on and made a number of plays for this team. Starting 2022 the way the end of 2021 is ideal for both me and for this team.


How should the group look in 2022

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Like I mentioned above, the Steelers don’t need to really do much at this position. Re-signing Charlton is pretty much the one thing you’d like to see them do. While the Ingram signing a year ago made a lot of sense for both the organization, and the player, we saw how that worked out. I’m not sure adding someone of name value is the way to go anymore, but considering what the depth options were after Ingram was gone, I’m happy with the cheaper route and cheaper options already on roster. The long and the short of it is the Steelers need to spend money this offseason and this is one spot they do not need to worry about.


But what do you think? What should the Steelers Outside Linebacker position look like at the start of the 2022 season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Check out the other position previews below: