NFL Football is officially back, and Steelers football is just days away! With that in mind, let’s time to take a look at the current free agent market and determine which available players would make the most sense for the Steelers.
According to Over The Cap, the Steelers have an estimated $9,795,599 in salary cap space after the Diontae Johnson signing, which is less than they will need to be reserved for signing the practice squad and adding any in-season pieces, amongst other things. But there are still other ways to free up space for those things as the season approaches. Nonetheless, the Steelers have enough room to make a splash signing at a position in need of an upgrade. The question then lies, what areas would the Steelers want to address?
If we are discussing depth, offensive tackle would have to be at the top of the list of priorities. With only three notable tackles on the current roster, adding another vet to the mix would certainly be ideal. If we are discussing a prime starting-caliber talent, cornerback makes the most sense, as the Steelers do not currently have a CB1 on the roster. There are several other positions that could be improved with a free agent acquisition as well, but the five players below are the most logical fits for the Steelers based on the current free agent market and the team’s primary needs or fits.
Kevin King — CB
Probably the juiciest name on this list, King is a long, athletic corner who has proven he can play at a high level when healthy. He always seems to be dealing with nagging injuries, but then again, there has to be some reason a player of this caliber is still on the open market in August. At this stage of the summer, King is likely looking for a one-year prove-it deal with the hopes of getting a lucrative deal in 2023.
His best statistical season was in 2019, when he recorded 5 interceptions and 15 passes defended. He has missed at least five games each of the last two years, but toward the tail end of last season, he finally began to play like the Kevin King we were accustomed to earlier in his career. In fact, one could make the argument that he would be the best corner on the Steelers roster when healthy, and I would not be able to disagree with such an assessment. It would make my day if Omar Khan pulled the trigger on this one.
Joe Haden — CB
Haden was once excited to hit the open market and test free agency for the first legitimate time in his NFL career, but after two seasons of slow regression, Haden was unable to garner much interest around the league. He most presumptuously has come down on his price, and he would likely accept an offer to come back to Pittsburgh, even if that means playing in a reserve or nickel role that he was outspokenly opposed to playing in the past. If I were calling the shots, I would bring him in as a “ploach” (a player in a reserve role who is more a coach than anything else; and yes, I am coining that term as the first-ever Andrew Wilbar “special word”) on a minimal one or two-year deal. That makes the most sense for both parties.
Eric Fisher — OT
Mackensie Alexander — CB
Alexander is one of many names the Steelers passed up in favor of Artie Burns back in 2016, but they could do themselves a favor by adding him as a free agent six years after that occurrence. Joe Haden would be a more ideal fit based on familiarity, but in the event he is unwilling to come back on a cheap deal and play a different role, Alexander would be a nice backup option. Alexander provides inside/outside versatility, and although he is not going to create many splash plays, he has proven an ability to blitz effectively from the slot. On a cheap deal, he could give the Steelers another option at nickel.
Skai Moore — ILB
Many Steelers fans, including myself, were hoping Skyy Moore would be taken by the Steelers on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, but never fear, my fine Steeler fan followers! We have found a consolation prize! Skai Moore may not be the explosive playmaker Skyy Moore is likely to be for years to come, but his track record in college proves he has an ability to create some splash plays of his own.
Moore did not test as well as expected during his pre-draft process in 2018, but he is a talented coverage linebacker who fits the mold of a Brian Flores hybrid defender. Myles Jack and Damontae Kazee could see different roles as hybrid-type defenders as well, but adding a low-risk option like Moore would bolster the Steelers’ depth at a position whose starters have injury concerns from their past. Moore racked up 14 interceptions his four-year career at South Carolina, 7 of which were in his final two seasons. In those final two seasons, Moore also recorded 3 forced fumbles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.
Here is what his former coach, Will Muschamp, said about Moore ahead of the 2018 draft.
“The guy is extremely instinctive, extremely bright, intelligent, he’s going to play a long time because he’s athletic,” Muschamp said back in December. “He can play every down, he can play on special teams because he’s a really good space player. In my year in the NFL, one of the many things I learned is the guys that have longevity in that league are intelligent.”
Which free agent would you like to see the Steelers sign? Of the players mentioned above, which one would be your favorite for the Steelers? Be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC as we get you ready for another great season of Steelers football!