In Part One of my “Betz” 2023 offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we looked at some of the Steelers own Free Agents that the team should bring back before attacking roster deficiencies through outside Free Agency and the Draft. I recommended retaining CB Cameron Sutton, DT Larry Ogunjobi, SS Terrell Edmunds, and ILB Robert Spillane to keep a solid core of players in place on the defensive side of the ball. Now we turn our attention to one of my favorite events of the entire NFL Calendar, Unrestricted Free Agency, where the Steelers can sign other teams’ former players to improve the roster in key areas.
Before I list any players the Steelers should bring in, I want to set the groundwork for what I think the organization’s biggest needs are heading into 2023. That will inform how I approach player acquisition throughout the last two parts of this mini-series. I believe the Steelers biggest need is at cornerback, where the team has gone to work without the services of a true CB1 since the early Joe Haden years in Pittsburgh. Beyond that, the team needs to add blue-chip talent in the trenches, specifically along the interior of both lines. And finally, inside linebacker and wide receiver round out my top 5 team needs.
So how can the Steelers address these needs before Draft Day during Free Agency? Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin have their work cut out for them to turn a scrappy young roster into a true contender, and it starts here.
Let’s dive in!
GENERAL DISCLAIMER: According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are currently about $1 million under the cap limit for 2023. That number is deceiving though, with many changes about to happen and players set to hit the open market. If the Steelers were to cut some high-cost vets such as CB William Jackson III, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, and QB Mitch Trubisky, as well as restructure some larger contracts and push some money into the future for guys like OLB T.J. Watt and DT Cam Heyward, the team could find themselves with nearly $35 million in space to sign outside free agents. All that to say, the team has options in 2023 to open up plenty of cap space for building the roster however they want. With that in mind, here are four players the Steelers should consider signing in 2023.
NOTE: A complete list of 2023 Free Agents via Spotrac can be found HERE.
NT Dalvin Tomlinson (MIN)
Spotrac Market Value: $8.5M/year
Still only 28 years old and an absolute rock as a 0-tech run stuffer, Tomlinson would solidify the Steelers biggest weakness along the defensive line immediately. If the team is able to retain Larry Ogunjobi as I recommended in my first article in this series, the Steelers go from a decent defensive line to a dominant unit, with a 4-deep rotation of studs including Cam Heyward, Ogunjobi, Tomlinson, and 2022 3rd Round pick DeMarvin Leal. The Steelers don’t need to bring in a swarm of new faces in Free Agency. A solid core is in place on both sides of the ball. So paying a little more to make your Front 4 a dominant unit is money well spent in my opinion. I suspect Tomlinson will take a little less per year than his market value with a good bonus structure, which happens to be Omar Khan’s specialty. One caveat: this move should not preclude the team from drafting a defensive lineman if one they like is available for one of their selections. You can’t have too many good D-linemen. See: 2022 Super Bowl participant, Philadelphia Eagles.
ILB Germaine Pratt (CIN)
Spotrac Market Value: $10.6M/year
Pratt turned a corner in 2022 from solid defender to difference maker for Cincinnati, specifically in coverage, where he quietly graded out as PFF’s top Inside Linebacker versus the pass. I view Spotrac’s market value estimate for Pratt somewhat inflated for a mid-level ILB, so I think the Steelers could add Pratt to a needy linebacker room without breaking the bank. Considering the 2023 draft class is very underwhelming at ILB, the Steelers would be wise to do business with a veteran field general on defense. A rangy coverage linebacker especially should be a priority for Pittsburgh.
LT Andre Dillard (PHI)
Spotrac Market Value: N/A
Dillard is a former 1st Round pick and is only 27 years old in 2023. The Eagles have enjoyed stellar play at left tackle ahead of Dillard, who hasn’t really gotten a chance in Philly to show whether he can live up to his draft pedigree. The Steelers could potentially strike gold here by acquiring Dillard on a 1-year “prove-it” deal to compete with Dan Moore Jr. for the starting left tackle spot. It also wouldn’t inhibit the team from drafting a left tackle this year in case Dillard doesn’t work out. If Dillard is anything, he’s a punishing run blocker with some spot starts under his belt. A potentially prudent move by Pittsburgh.
WR DeAndre Carter (LAC)
Spotrac Market Value: 2.0M/year
Carter is a twitchy deep threat with starting experience in Los Angeles. He could easily take on the Steven Sims role for the Steelers, and is a similar player to Calvin Austin III, who the Steelers are hoping to get back healthy for 2023. Carter is at worst a great insurance policy for Austin and a solid WR4 and return man. At best, he’s a field-stretching WR3 with inside, outside versatility while the team brings Austin III along slowly.
That does it for Part Two of The “Betz” Steelers Offseason in 2023. In part three, we’ll compile a Mock Draft of the Steelers 7 total picks in the 2023 Draft to round out the roster.
Are there any other outside free agents you think the Steelers should consider signing? Anyone I like that you don’t? Let me know in the comment section below. As always, go Steelers!