The Pittsburgh Steelers were busy during the league’s legal tampering period and the start of free agency. One of the first moves they made was signing interior offensive lineman Mason Cole. Cole was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, and was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in the last year of his rookie contract.
His versatility, being able to play all three interior offensive line positions, was appealing to a team like the Steelers who are extremely young and inexperienced along their offensive front. This is where Mason Cole sees himself coming in and helping the team. Not just on the field, but off the field as a leader for a very young offensive line group.
“There is an opportunity here to help this young offensive line get better,” Cole told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I think as you get up in years in the NFL, I am going into Year 5, there comes that point where you have to start being that guy in the room one way or another. If that is what the room needs, the team needs, that is what I am here for, to give that veteran presence. I have been that young guy in the room before. I had one of the veteran leaders mentor me and show me the way. If I can do that to any of these young guys on the team, I think it would be a great honor.”
Cole now enters an organization with players all on their rookie contracts outside of Chuks Okorafor, who just re-signed with the Steelers, and James Daniels, another free agent acquisition from the Chicago Bears. On top of that, the Steelers have an entirely new offensive line coaching staff, highlighted by Pat Meyer. Cole sees this as a positive as he presses on into 2022.
“That is huge,” said Cole of his new situation. “But nothing is ever given in this league. Everything has to be earned. No matter what the situation, you still have to go in and play really well and try to be a leader and help that room be cohesive and play together. A big thing for me is playing together as a group, as a room. It will be huge for this team. That is a big part of my play and what I want to do here.”
As a free agent for the first time in his career, Cole is excited for his opportunity with the Steelers organization.
“I am really excited about this organization and being a part of it, the history and culture of this organization, past, present and future,” said Cole. “I want to be a part of bringing this city a Lombardi Trophy.
“Growing up a football fan you know about Pittsburgh, the Steelers, and what it means to play for this team and help them win games. I’ve always said if you are good at this game, it will be good to you. If you are good to this city, it will be good to you. I am excited to embrace this city, organization, and be a part of this culture, town. Coming here you can feel the culture and history of this organization.”
One interesting story about Cole’s signing is how the moment he signed the contract with Pittsburgh he sent a text to running back Najee Harris. He wanted Harris to know he has big plans for the 2021 first round pick out of Alabama.
“That is why you play offensive line, to turn around and hand the ball to a guy like that,” Cole said. “I was texting him and said we have to get you to 2,000 yards in a season. That is the goal.”
For the Steelers’ ailing running game, improving on Harris’ rookie season would be a welcome addition to the team’s offensive arsenal. However, having a running game which would pave the way for a 2,000 yard season would be one of the greatest turnarounds for a position group in Steelers, and possibly league, history.
Cole brings experience, versatility and leadership to the Steelers’ offensive line, and that is something which shouldn’t be overlooked as the team hopes to re-invent their offense in 2022 and beyond.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.