As the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason winds down with no team activities between now and training camp, one of the handful of items on the checklist between now and Latrobe has reportedly been handled. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Steelers have signed second-round draft pick Keeanu Benton.
#Steelers second round DT Keeanu Benton has signed his rookie contract, source said. Benton has guaranteed money in the third year of his contract, the first time ever for the 49th pick. The deal was negotiated by @JoeNDiBenedetto and @KenSarnoff of 1 OF 1 Agency.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 23, 2023
The Steelers second of their second-round draft picks in the 2023 NFL draft, Keeanu Benton was selected 49th overall out of the University of Wisconsin. Appearing in 39 games over his four college seasons, Benton had 81 tackles with 19 coming for loss and 9.0 sacks as well as four passes defensed and two forced fumbles. During his senior season, Benton appeared in 12 games with 36 tackles, 10 of which were for loss, and 4.5 sacks.
Based on the report from Rapoport, there is some interesting inclusions in Benton‘s contract. According to overthecap.com, Benton is estimated to cost $1,333,297 against the 2023 salary cap. After displacement, Benton will only decrease the Steelers salary cap by less than $400k for 2023. But according to the report, Benton has guaranteed money in the third year of his contract which has not happened in the NFL for player selected at the 49th pick or beyond. While the amounts of contracts for rookies are determined by the rookie wage scale set forth by the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, there are some issues in the contract that can still be negotiated. Exactly how this deal is structured and the amount of guaranteed money in year three has yet to be reported.
The most important thing when it comes to Keeanu Benton is the contract issue is no longer hanging over both the player and the team before training camp. Although there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room specifically with the amount of the contract, having things locked in is one less concern.
With the signing of Benton, only two players selected by the Steelers in the 2023 NFL draft have yet to sign the contract and first-round pick Broderick Jones and the Steelers first of their two second-round selections of Joey Porter Jr.
UPDATE: The Steelers have officially announced the signing of Keeanu Benton.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 offseason.