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2022 Free Agent Tracker: Keeping tabs on players staying, and leaving (UPDATED)

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/25/2022 - 12:05pm
Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long list of free agents this offseason, and we keep you up-to-date with the news and rumors surrounding these players.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season over, it is time to start looking at what the team will do with some of their own free agents heading into the 2022 season. In a perfect world the team would have enough money to pay those they want to keep, and let the others walk in hopes of receiving a compensatory draft pick.

But not all free agents are created equal. There are many different types of free agents.

Check out the distinction between an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA), Restricted Free Agent (RFA) and an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA). For a detailed explanation of each type of free agent, we have all that for you right HERE.

Below you will see the complete list of Steelers 2022 free agents, and this will be updated with players who are signed, released, sign with a new team and even rumors of players who might be landing in Pittsburgh for the 2022 season.

Be sure to check back for the latest news and notes on the Steelers’ free agency rumors and news!

2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agents Unrestricted Free Agents

QB
Ben Roethlisberger — RETIRED
Joshua Dobbs — Signed one-year contract with the Cleveland Browns — 4/8

WR
JuJu Smith-Schuster — Signed one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs — 3/18
James Washington — Signed one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys — 3/18
Ray-Ray McCloud — Signed two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers — 3/17

TE
Eric Ebron

RB
Kalen Ballage

Offensive Line
Trai Turner — Signed one-year deal with Washington Commanders 5/2
Chuks Okorafor — Signed 3-year deal with the Steelers 3/14
B.J. Finney — RETIRED

Defensive Line
Montravius Adams — Signed 2-year deal with the Steelers 3/15

OLB
Taco Charlton — Signed one-year deal with the Saints 4/4

CB
Joe Haden
Akhello Witherspoon — Signed two-year deal with the Steelers 3/17
Arthur Maulet — Signed two-year deal with the Steelers 3/12

Safety
Terrell Edmunds — Signed a one-year deal with the Steelers 4/22
Miles Killebrew — Signed two-year deal with the Steelers 3/11

Restricted Free Agents

S Marcus Allen — Received a right of first refusal tender 3/14
LB Robert Spillane — Received a right of first refusal tender 3/14

Exclusive Rights Free Agents

C/G J.C. Hassenauer — Signed his ERFA tender
DL Demarcus Christmas
CB DeMarkus Acy
LS Christian Kuntz — Signed one-year deal with the Steelers 1/19

Free Agent Rumors

Steelers showing interest in Jordan Whitehead — 3/10
Steelers could be targeting Carlton Davis in free agency — 3/10
Recently released ILB Bobby Wagner could be a target for the Steelers — 3/10
Jacoby Brissett a possible QB target for the Steelers in free agency — 3/11

Official Free Agent Signings

Steelers sign Mitchell Trubisky to two-year contract — 3/14
Steelers sign center Mason Cole to three-year contract — 3/14
Steelers sign offensive lineman James Daniels — 3/15
Steelers agree to terms on a two-year contract for CB Levi Wallace — 3/15
Steelers sign LB Myles Jack to two-year contract — 3/16
Steelers sign KR/PR Gunner Olszewski to a 2-year deal — 3/18
Steelers sign LB Genard Avery to a 1-year deal — 3/28
Steelers sign Karl Joseph to 1-year contract — 3/31
Steelers sign S Damontae Kazee to 1-year deal — 5/3
Steelers sign DT Larry Ogunjobi to a 1-year deal — 6/21 NEW

Future/Reserve Contract

DE Daniel Archibong
WR Rico Bussey
DT Khalil Davis
OG Nathan Gilliam
OG Malcolm Pridgeon
LB Delontae Scott
PK Sam Sloman
DB Linden Stephens
TE Jace Sternberger
S Donovan Stiner
LS Rex Sunahara
WR Tyler Vaughns
DB Isaiah Johnson
WR Steven Sims
RB/FB Trey Edmunds
OT Chaz Green
WR Anthony Miller
P Cameron Nizialek
LB John Simon

Retirements
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger
  • DT Stephon Tuitt
  • OL B.J. Finney
Steelers Super Bowl Odds

What are the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl? According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Steelers are +6000 to win Super Bowl 57. So, if you are confident in the team to win it all, you could turn a small bet into a big win!

Have the Steelers done enough to have a dominant defense in 2022?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/25/2022 - 10:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers made some moves on defense, but did they do enough?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for their defense. It’s been this way since the 1970s, but has this particular standard been upheld over the past few seasons? How about in 2021, to be more specific?

Considering the Steelers finished last season last in run defense, I think it’s safe to say there is no need to dive deep into the statistics when trying to consider if last year’s defense would fall into the dominant category.

But that’s last year. What about this year? Have the Steelers done enough this offseason to help get their defense out of the middle of the pack and back into a top tier unit?

Let’s take a look at the moves made so far this offseason:

Free Agency
CB Levi Wallace
LB Myles Jack
DT Larry Okunjobi
S Damonate Kazee
LB Genard Avery

Re-Signed Players
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
NT Montravius Adams
S Terrell Edmunds
S Miles Killebrew
CB Arthur Maulet
S Karl Joseph

2022 NFL Draft
DE DeMarvin Leal
LB Mark Robinson

What about the players who were lost from last year’s defense? Let’s take a look:

Departures
LB Taco Charlton
DT Stephon Tuitt (Retirement)

Still on the open market
CB Joe Haden

When you look at the above lists, you can’t help but notice the team has done a lot to try and rectify their deficiencies in 2022. In fact, it’s safe to say it is exciting to see what the defense can do this season.

If you’re excited by the potential on the defense, know you aren’t alone. Minkah Fitzpatrick talked about his excitement level after signing his new contract last week.

“I’m really excited.” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m excited about getting Ahkello (Witherspoon) back. I’m excited about Levi (Wallace). I’m excited about Myles (Jack). We drafted well in the front. We have a young, but experienced defense. We got older guys that are great mentors, are great at coaching and getting the new guys ready to play because we’re going to need some new guys, new faces to step up. I’m excited about this upcoming season.”

When you consider the other facets of the Steelers’ defense, you have to throw in the fact no one knows what to expect with this 2022 defense. Keith Butler is gone, and Teryl Austin is the new defensive coordinator. Throw in how Mike Tomlin and Brian Flores will put their own stamp on the defense and this year’s defense could be something totally unique.

Throw in the fact the Steelers have the highest paid defense in the NFL, and you would expect the pay to match the play, right? Does it provide a sense of motivation for a player like Fitzpatrick, who is now the highest paid safety in the NFL? At least for Fitzpatrick, it isn’t the money which motivates.

“I don’t necessarily think the money motivates us, but just how we conduct ourselves.” Fitzpatrick said. “Last year was not to our standard at all. And I know myself, T.J. (Watt), Cam (Heyward), all of us were not happy or pleased with the way the season ended. Especially how in that playoff game, it was an embarrassment honestly, was not our typical selves.

“That’s what motivates us. The money is a blessing, and the money creates opportunity for everybody around us and our families. With the money they’re saying we trust you to be the best and prepare to be the best and compete against the best and play A plus plus on a consistent basis. I’m trying to hold myself to rather than just saying oh, I got paid so now I got to play well. These guys trust me with this amount of money and this amount of responsibility. Now it’s my duty to go out there and play at a high level and show them that I deserve this compensation.”

So, back to the question at hand. Have the Steelers done enough to have a dominant defense? The addition of a player like Wallace will help with the versatility of the defense. The addition to Okunjobi will absolutely help an aging, and soft, run defense. The addition of Jack will give the team options at linebacker.

Will all of this translate to not just a dominant defense, but wins? There is no way of knowing that until the proverbial bullets start flying when the regular season starts. But first, the team reporting to training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College will be when the team starts to get answers to these questions.

Don’t hold it against the Steelers’ rookies who were forced to start in 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/25/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After several of the team’s draft picks were thrown into starting roles early, expecting them to already be great was a lot to ask.

The 2020 NFL season was unprecedented in many ways. With teams playing in empty stadiums and games being moved around and taking place on Wednesday afternoons, it was a situation in which any reasonable person would not want to return.

But the 2020 season also led to an unprecedented 2021 in the NFL. Due to the lack of revenue, the salary cap took a huge dive for the first time and left a number of teams scrambling to come up with a solution. While the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to make things work, they were also forced to do some unconventional maneuvers.

Having nine selections in the 2021 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw six of those draft picks start games for them during the rookie season. This number does not include punter Pressley Harvin III, who was the Steelers’ starting punter for 15 games his rookie year, simply because a punter does not technically start in any game. The only other two players to not get starts for the Steelers was Quincy Roche, who did have three starts for the New York Giants who claimed him off waivers when he did not make the Steelers 53-man roster, and Buddy Johnson, who only appeared in four games for the Steelers as he dealt with injury during his first season.

In another unprecedented move, the Steelers saw four of their draft picks start more than half the games of their rookie season. While it wasn’t surprising to see first-round draft pick Najee Harris thrown into the starting running back role, what came as more of a surprise was third-round draft pick Kendrick Green and fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. being starters the first week of the season on the offensive line.

Even second-round draft pick Pat Freiermuth had the luxury of easing into his NFL career over the first few weeks of the season. It wasn’t until Week 6 of 2021 when Freiermuth saw more than 33 snaps in a game. But as for Dan Moore and Kendrick Green, they were thrust into things very early in their careers.

Dan Moore Jr. was the first rookie to start for the season at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in more than 60 years. Having the second-most offensive snaps on the team only behind Trai Turner, there were questions leading up to training camp as to whether or not Moore would even be receiving a helmet on game day. But with Zach Banner suffering a setback in returning from his knee injury, Moore was called upon much sooner than anticipated.

While Dan Moore Junior was called on due to an injury as much as anything, Kendrick Green seemed to be more of a ‘starter by default’ his rookie season. Whether it was due to salary cap constraints or simply an oversight by the front office, Kendrick Green was forced to be ‘the guy’ at center whether he was ready to play or not.

When it comes to the Steelers 2021 rookies, particularly Green and Moore, Steelers’ Nation should not hold it against these players that they were forced into action so early in their careers. As Steelers fans have seen time and time again, the organization does not want to rush its rookies into action and inhibit their development if it can be avoided. Unfortunately, in 2021 it was necessary.

Yes, Najee Harris was called on in a big way as a rookie. But the nature of his position, and the fact he was a first-round draft pick, it was expected. Pat Freiermuth was ready to go and still was eased into the amount of snaps he was asked to log early in 2021. But for Green and Moore, they were thrown to the fire partially because they play a position where snaps come more on an ‘all or nothing’ basis.

While many Steelers’ fans understand the growth that is needed for these two young offensive lineman, too many are quick to rush to judgment and have already pegged their careers and successes or failures. In what universe would the Pittsburgh Steelers cut a third-round draft pick after their rookie season, one in which they started 15 games? Yet this is what some fans want before these players have even taken one snap in pads for the 2022 season.

First, let’s look at Kendrick Green’s situation and what could have been in a typical rookie season. What if the Steelers would have been able to bring in a ‘bridge’ center and allow their third-round draft pick to develop in the way they typically do? There would have been a good chance that Kendrick Green would not have been called into action until about 10 weeks into the season when Kevin Dotson went down. Perhaps at that time he would have got a chance to play some guard as the Steelers shuffled a number of players into the position for the remainder of the season. But getting at least half the season under his belt before having to take any meaningful snaps might have fans encouraged about the future. For all we know, the Steelers may have not even felt the need to sign Mason Cole in the offseason. Or, based on his play to finish the year, the Steelers would have realized that they did need to make the move. Either way, fans may have been a lot more encouraged about what Green could offer down the road rather than writing him off at some insist on doing.

Now let’s look at Dan Moore. If things would have gone as planned for the Steelers at the tackle position when they headed to training camp, Moore likely would have been inactive on game days throughout the season. Whether or not the Steelers would have been satisfied with their tackle play and called on Moore at some point to see if he could get the job done is a question no one would be able to answer. But knowing that they could have done it at the time of their choosing rather than Moore being the unquestionable starter in Week 1 could have changed things either for the positive or the negative.

While forcing these players into action sooner than expected did give them valuable experience and playing time, it also exposed them to unnecessary scrutiny by a fan base who has some members who jump to unnecessary conclusions.

The story for both of these players is just getting started. These players may not have even completed the first chapter of the novel that is their NFL career. Remember this when already placing judgment and trying to get them out of the starting lineup or even off the team before they head to training camp. And even though the Steelers added more players to the position group, and possibly still could add even more, is not an indictment to their skill. If anything, it’s an indictment on how little the Steelers could do last offseason when it came to shaping their roster. But if nothing else, fans should be excited about the potential growth of these players.

Let’s try to give these players a chance to grow in 2022, something they weren’t afforded in their rookie seasons.

Is offensive tackle still a position of concern for the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/25/2022 - 7:30am
Dan Moore allowed 7.5 sacks in his first season. | Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Pittsburgh Steelers could really do with adding to the offensive tackle position with a veteran starter to bring leadership to the line and offense.

Last season the biggest concern about the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, amongst many others, was the offensive line. In the 2022 offseason the Steelers have tried to address those concerns by signing free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole, as well as re-signing Chuks Okorafor.

But have they done enough?

Personally, I am extremely impressed with James Daniels. The way he played in Chicago was very impressive, his blocking both in pass protection and the run game showed up well. He also speaks like a Steeler and a leader, his comments on Steelers.com are worth reading and listening to. Daniels talked about wanting to gain respect and lead. He certainly could be the Steelers starting right guard for the forseaable future.

In addition, Mason Cole looks to be a rock solid center who will help address the problems the Steelers had with their center play last year. Cole impressively had 0 penalties and only allowed 2 sacks. The interior offensive line looks solid with the position battle between Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green bound to push up the standard and level of play at left guard.

However, the tackle position is still a major concern. Currently on the roster the Steelers have Dan Moore, Chuks Okorafor, Joe Haeg, Chaz Green, Jordan Tucker and Jake Dixon. Not exactly a list of names to inspire confidence. Last season Moore allowed 7.5 sacks, Chuks 2 sacks, Haeg 3 sacks, but all these figures come with a health warning given Ben Roethlisberger’s quick release of 2.2 seconds, had he held he ball for the NFL average of 2.72 seconds then those numbers could lhave been higher.

Dan Moore, was not expected to play last season, but the injuries to Zach Banner forced the Steelers into playing Moore probably earlier than they wanted to. Chuks was solid, if not spectacular, but at times really lacked the aggression needed to be a top level lineman. Chuks returns this season on a big prove it deal and Moore goes into his sophomore season needing to continue the improvement he showed throughout the 2021 season. However, the tackle position is one I feel the Steelers need to address.

The Steelers still have $15.1 million dollars (at time of writing) in cap space. Now given the fact the Steelers like to keep $4-5 million for emergencies, this would leave around $11.1 million before contract restructures and anymore new deals in space. Given that space, I’d like to see them go out and get some veteran leadership at the tackle position, either from the free agent market or by making a trade.

Erik Fisher, although 31, is someone who could be a good acquisition for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fisher is a former first round pick who has played 132 NFL games, starting 128 of those. He has experience with both the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. Fisher would bring veteran leadership and experience to a very young offensive line and offense. Or the Steelers could look at those who wlll be hittng free agency next season the likes of DJ Humphries (Arizona), George Fant (Jets), Matt Pryor (Colts), Rob Havenstein (Rams) for example. These are players who could maybe add something and be picked up for a reasonably low trade value and maybe a player.

Going into the 2022 season in order to give the new QB1, Mitch Trubisky, Madon Rudolph or Kenny Pickett, and Najee Harris the best opportunity to succeed I can’t help but feel the offensive line is a position the Steelers could do with adding too.

I am still exceptionally optimistic about the 2022 season and this new offense; however, this final move would ensure the Steelers offense is successful this coming season.

Steelers announce “Game Themes” for all 2022 home games

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/25/2022 - 6:30am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the 2022 regular season!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th for the first time since 2019, but that doesn’t mean preparations for the 2022 regular season aren’t ongoing.

This week the Steelers announced the game themes for all 2022 home games. So, if you are heading to a game at Heinz Field this season, check out what extra stuff you might get to take in.

This per the Steelers official website:

Preseason Week 1 vs. Seahawks

The Steelers preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, Aug. 13, will be the team’s ‘Homecoming Game,’ with Steelers legends on hand to kick off the season.

Preseason Week 3 vs. Lions

A celebration of youth football will be held when the Steelers host the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Aug. 28. The team’s ‘Play Football’ game honors youth and high school football teams from around the Pittsburgh area and includes halftime activities highlighting local athletes.

Week 4: Steelers vs. Jets

After the team’s home opener against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 18, The Steelers will celebrate their rich tradition when the team’s annual Alumni Weekend is held when the team hosts the New York Jets on Oct. 2.

Week 6: Steelers vs. Buccaneers

The NFL has partnered with the American Cancer Society for the 14th consecutive season for ‘Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer.’ The initiative supports the fight against cancer and is highlighted by NFL teams during October. The Steelers will host their Crucial Catch game on Sunday, Oct. 16 when they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field. There will be no shortage of support throughout Heinz Field, with on-field stencils and goal post wraps being among the featured items supporting Crucial Catch. Players and coaches will also show their support, with sideline apparel visible. This is also the weekend the Steelers will host the annual Rock Steelers Style event.

Week 10: Steelers vs. Saints

The Steelers will welcome the 2022 Hall of Honor Class on the weekend the team takes on the New Orleans Saints. The Steelers will enshrine the new class, which includes an on-field presentation during the game on Sunday, Nov. 13.

Week 11: Steelers vs. Bengals

Honoring those who have served our country is something the Steelers have done for decades, and that tradition will continue when the team hosts the Salute to Service game when the team plays the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football on Nov. 20 at Heinz Field. Since the inception of the NFL’s Salute to Service initiative, the Steelers have honored countless veterans at the annual game and celebrated those who continue to serve in all branches of the armed forces.

Week 14: Steelers vs. Ravens

It’s not unusual to see players on the field in pregame warmups with their cleats representing their city, showing their personality or just something fun to fire them up. But when the Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Dec. 11, their cleats will take on a whole new look, showing off something they are passionate about. For the seventh year the NFL will support players representing a charity or cause with the league’s player cause initiative, My Cause, My Cleats. After the players wear the cleats, they have the option to auction them off to raise money for their cause on NFL Auction, with 100% of the funds raised given to the charity. Fans may bid on player cleats at NFL.com/Auction.

Week 16: Steelers vs. Raiders

Christmas Eve will be a huge celebration at Heinz Field for many reasons when the team hosts the Las Vegas Raiders. The team will be celebrating the 50thAnniversary of the Immaculate Reception. On Dec. 23, 1972 at Three Rivers Stadium in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game vs. the Oakland Raiders, Franco Harris miraculously scooped up a deflected pass and ran for a 60-yard touchdown reception as time expired that gave the Steelers the 13-7 win. It was the team’s first-ever playoff win.

That weekend, the team will also take part in the NFL’s social justice campaign, ‘Inspire Change,’ during the Raiders game as well. The Steelers, as well as all NFL teams, have put social justice issues at the forefront in their community efforts.

The annual ‘Thank You Fans’ game will take place when the Steelers host the Browns, on a date still to be determined by the NFL. It’s an opportunity for the organization to show their gratitude for all the support during the season and year-round from Steelers Nation. There will be giveaways and a lot of excitement for fans in attendance and Steelers Nation all over.

If you were like me, and hoping for an announcement of an alternate jersey or throwback, such an announcement was not made at this juncture of the offseason. It also wasn’t made known which game(s) the team will don their Nike Color Rush uniforms.

It is hard to believe, but the Steelers will be back at camp in roughly one month. Get ready for the new season by staying tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the black and gold.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/25/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: Mike Tomlin and the value of real coaching

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin went on The Pivot Podcast this week and put on an absolute clinic regarding football, coaching, players and life. He mentioned the value of real coaching. Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does as Coach Smith breaks down real coaching.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • Mike Tomlin, The Real Coach
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: Mike Tomlin was always and is still the right coach to lead the Steelers

In one 90-minute podcast on The Pivot, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin showed why he’s still the right man to lead the way. Also, Pittsburgh inks Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal and Kenny Pickett finally signs his. That and your questions and comments on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with veteran BTSC podcaster and writer Tony Defeo.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Mike Tomlin was always and is still the right coach to lead the Steelers
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 18

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Dave, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. The Steelers made another big move this week by signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.What was your knee-jerk reaction to the news?

2. Last year Ogunjobi played 64% of the defensive snaps for the Cincinnati Bengals in 16 games as he did not play in their meaningless Week 18 game. This percentage was higher than any defensive lineman on the Steelers in 2021 except Cam Heyward (82%). Do you think the Steelers will use Ogunjobi more or less than he was last year in Cincy?

3. Najee Harris had 381 touches in 2021, the most in the NFL. Do you think he will have more or less touches in 2022? Why?

4. Keeping with Harris, 19.4% of his touches last season came in the form of receptions. Do you expect him to see more, less, or about the same breakdown when it comes to receptions in 2022?

5. In a way-to-early exercise, based on the Steelers current roster and the contract status of those players, what do you think will be their greatest position of need next offseason (either in free agency or draft)?

6. In exactly six months from today it will be Christmas Eve (which also happens to be when the Steelers are set to host the Las Vegas Raiders). In honor of this, what food or drink do you look forward to the most that is typically only around during the holidays?

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Going For Two: Joe Haeg & Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 13 of Going For Two, featuring Joe Haeg and Najee Harris

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Joe Haeg Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Tackle
Age: 29
Year: 7
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 298
Drafted: Round 5, Pick 155, 2016 (Indianapolis Colts)
College: North Dakota State
Roster Outlook: Very likely
Analysis:

Appearing at four different spots on the Steelers offensive line in 2021 (all but center), Joe Haeg showed his value as a reserve tackle. Additionally, hey also has the most years experience of any player on the offensive line for the Steelers. Adding these two factors together, it would take a lot for Haeg not to once again hold one of the positions for the offensive line on the Steelers 53 man roster. The only thing working against him is he is no longer a “player on the rise” as he enters his seventh season, but the Steelers know what they have in Joe Haeg and can call on him in-game if needed.

Najee Harris Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Position: Running Back
Age: 24
Year: 2
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 232
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 24, 2021
College: Alabama
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

After a Pro Bowl season his rookie year, Najee Harris is looking for another strong year in 2022. While there are other parts of his game in which he can work to improve, achieving more running yards than he did his rookie year will have as much, if not more, to do with the rest of the offense than it does with him. Staying healthy, and hopefully not being overworked, Harris is undoubtably the guy in the Steelers’ running backs room. As he enters year two, the bigger question is if Harris is the guy among all NFL running backs in 2022.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Despite having odds stacked against him, Mark Robinson living the dream with the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 7th Round draft pick isn’t about to let his dream job get away from him.

When you consider the path Mark Robinson took to the NFL, it is rather unfathomable. We’ve all heard the stories about Robinson, a former running back, joined Ole Miss as a scout team defender to eventually be a leading tackler on the SEC team his senior year. He turned that performance into a shot with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted him in the 7th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

7th Round picks are often viewed as long shots to make any team’s 53-man roster, and Robinson realizes this every day. But don’t let that simple fact deter Robinson from realizing he is living his dream with the Steelers. Every day he wakes up and realizes him being with the Steelers is a blessing.

“Every day waking up, this is my dream job,” Robinson told the Steelers website. “I’m blessed to be here. I look forward to getting better. Just being in the building, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

While Robinson has been vocal about his transition from offense to defense in college, on thing he hasn’t spoken about often is how he felt as if every NFL, but one, didn’t believe in him, or his abilities.

“I definitely feel like every team besides this organization didn’t believe in who I was,” said Robinson. “But that is fine. I am here for the people who believe in me.”

Robinson’s journey to the NFL has been anything but smooth. However, something Mike Tomlin speaks about often is how trials and tribulations can mold a player/man. In this regard, the challenges which stood in Robinson’s way throughout his football career helped make Robinson the man who found his way onto the Steelers’ 90-man offseason roster as a drafted player.

“It was definitely challenging. There was never a time I thought I would be doing anything else in life,” said Robinson. “I knew one way or another, I just had to keep on working and God was going to have me. Having faith and believing in God. The way that I was raised, believing in who I am, knowing what I want in life, and working for it until I get it.

“I went through a couple of situations I had to go through in order to be who I am now. The chips were stacked against me, but I had faith and worked hard. You never know how it’s going to work out. But you believe hard work will pay off and it did. I had to trust in God. I knew who I wanted to be, but I didn’t know how to get there. He put me through some things, let me know who I am, so I can be prepared to be here. I am grateful for everything, the highs, the lows, the good, the bad, I am thankful for all of it.

“I know the work it took to get here. It took a lot for me to get here. I made it here and am looking forward to keep on doing it.”

Robinson’s story is one to be told repeatedly, but the question many want to know is how things are going for the 7th Round pick. How was rookie minicamp and mandatory veteran minicamp in his transition not just from offense to defense, but from the collegiate game to the professional game.

“The time we had was very valuable,” recalled Robinson. “Being in the locker room with guys. Getting a chance to see how they operate so we get a feel for how they are, how to handle business, how we should go about our business as a professional.

“I’ve already learned so much. Always take care of your body. Always come in with the right mindset. Stress pre-practice routines like stretching, warming up properly, just being prepared.

“I know what I bring to the table. I have to show up prepared so I can be the best me, put my best foot forward. Everything else will fall into place. I need to just keep taking care of my body, studying my playbook, just having the right mindset, believing in who I am and getting ready to show them what I can do.”

The process for Robinson has been a challenge, but if Robinson is anything it’s determined. You don’t get to where Robinson is now, with all that has been in his way, without a ridiculous focus and determination.

“When you have gone through a lot to be here, it’s different when you touch the field,” said Robinson. “It’s all smiles in the media and stuff like that. But a lot of nights and days lonely going through the process. It makes you different on the inside. It’s a different purpose for me. I know what I went through to be here. I never take it for granted. When I touch the field, I am going to give it everything I have got. I am going to run the fastest, hit the hardest, and let everything work itself out.”

Robinson will have his shot to show coaches, teammates and fans what he can do when the Steelers report to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th, but in the meantime it is safe to say Robinson is a player who is easy to root for. Steelers fans love a good story, and if Robinson can work his way onto the 53-man roster, even as a special teams player, what a story it would be.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the offseason.

The Steelers’ secondary might be unconventional by common theory

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Steelers are wondering what the team’s plan at cornerback is, and the plan might just be some out of the box thinking.

Among the list of positions Pittsburgh Steelers fans are still concerned about, the cornerback position would absolutely be near the top. The biggest concern of the group is how no one is deemed to be the “CB1” on the roster. Others would go as far to suggest the team has a bunch of CB2s, and they need a top tier player on the outside.

But what if the Steelers’ plan under Teryl Austin isn’t your typical approach to the secondary? What if it is more about matching up players/skill sets, and not focusing on the same two cornerbacks remaining on the field and rotating sub package players in and out of the lineup?

That is exactly what veteran cornerback Cam Sutton alluded to during the team’s mandatory minicamp recently.

“We are working a lot of interchangeable pieces and seeing not just what guys can do but what we can do together, as well,” Sutton said. “It’s all about matchups. It’s all about showing the offense different things out there on the field week in and week out.

“Who knows? You might see Ahkello [Witherspoon] inside. You might see Levi [Wallace] inside. You might see other guys moving around. All of us are in this together. We’re one link of a whole, so we need all the pieces.”

One of the pieces which isn’t in the mix this season, but has become a leader in the cornerback room was none other than Joe Haden. With Haden still on the open market, some fans would love to see Haden return, but it seems as if the team is preparing for life without Haden.

“Definitely a lot of love and a lot of respect for Joe,” said second-year secondary coach Grady Brown. “We miss his energy. But the entire room has done a good job of just showing up every day and brining the proper energy that it takes to learn and put the work in and get better.”

With Haden, the entrenched starter during his tenure in Pittsburgh, out of the lineup, it is going to be a battle at almost every secondary position, and with every player.

“Let’s hope it’s a position battle everywhere,” Brown said. “Competition breeds top-notch effort, top-notch attention to detail, so we’d like to think that it’s competition throughout the secondary.

“My job is just to make sure all the guys are playing at a high level. We’ll find a way to get everyone on the field.”

Without Haden, and not knowing what this new-look secondary will resemble, is there uncertainty within the team? Are the players on board with what Austin is trying to implement? According to Terrell Edmunds, they are looking forward to the change, and the competition which will come with it.

“I wouldn’t really call it uncertainty,” Edmunds said. “I’d just call it a dogfight now.

“Yes, we had Joe. He was the older guy but now we have a bunch of different guys out there competing, trying to see who’s gonna take that step of being the starter this week, the starter next week. And we have three guys, we have pretty much all our guys, that are starter capable.”

The Steelers secondary will look different, not just from a personnel standpoint, but also with how the secondary could be deployed on a weekly basis. Could this be a good thing? That has yet to be seen, but it certainly seems as if the team is willing to look outside the box with the players they have on their current roster.

Be sure to stay tuned to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the start of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers still lack a true #1 cornerback, but the 2023 NFL Draft could change that.

Ready for the NFL’s dog days of summer to be over? If you have fallen into this category and are currently suffering from football withdrawal, how about a splash into the pool entitled, “2023 NFL Draft”?

Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a brief look at the outlook of each primary position in the 2023 NFL Draft, breaking down the top prospects of note while also taking a look at the prospects who make the most sense for the Steelers. This week, we will be looking at a position the Steelers have many unanswered questions at: cornerback.

The Steelers traded for Ahkello Witherspoon before the 2021 season and chose to sign him on a cheap 2-year deal following the season. However, he has never held up when depended upon as a CB1. This year, he will be entrusted with that role, likely covering the right side of the field while newcomer Levi Wallace covers the left. Wallace, a well-received free-agent signing, may be limited athletically, but he is incredibly sound instinctually. Regardless of how well those two play together, neither player is locked up long-term, and the 2023 draft class provides us with several intriguing cornerback prospects, as you will see in a minute.

If you have any thoughts on these prospects, be sure to share them in the comment section below.

Let’s dive in!

First Rounders 1. Kelee Ringo | Georgia

Ringo is one of the more “toolsy” corners in the 2023 class, displaying great length and speed for the position. His long strides allow him to recover if he gets beat early in the route, and his ability to close on the ball quickly will likely lead to more splash plays down the road. I also love the fight and physicality he plays with, although there are times he can get too grabby downfield. If he continues to develop at his current pace, he will be a first-round lock come April.

2. Joey Porter, Jr. | Penn State

As you will read below, I am higher on Porter than the majority of draft pundits you will find. I love the feistiness he displays in press coverage, and I love the fluidity with which he moves. I also like the fact that he is not afraid to lower the boom and make a momentum-shifting tackle on a receivers either. We will dive into him a little more closely in just a moment.

3. Eli Ricks | Alabama

Ricks is yet another long corner who possesses lockdown potential. A transfer from LSU, Ricks burst onto the scene as a freshman with four interceptions, but we did not see the same production in 2021, as his season was shortened due to a shoulder injury that ended his season after only six games. The only other thing of note is that he was arrested in May for speeding and possession of marijuana. While the marijuana charge was dropped, teams may still have concerns about his character and maturity.

4. Malachi Moore | Alabama

Moore was one of the best defensive backs in the country as a freshman in 2020, recording 3 interceptions and 6 passes defended. Nagging injuries limited his impact in 2021, but if he can get back to his 2020 form, he could go as high as the top 10. Moore is a good, but not elite, athlete who is best known for his versatility and instincts. He will have plenty of talent around him in that Alabama secondary, and the dividends could pay off if he can take advantage of his situation.

Rest of the Top 10

5. Cam Smith | South Carolina
6. Clark Phillips | Utah
7. Antonio Johnson | Texas A&M
8. Garrett Williams | Syracuse
9. Nehemiah Pritchett | Auburn
10. Mekhi Gardner | LSU

Steelers Prospect to Watch Joey Porter, Jr. | Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The son of former Steelers player and coach Joey Porter, Sr., Porter has everything you look for in a corner. He is fast, physical, long, and fluid. He flips his hips cleanly and quickly in coverage, and he is versatile enough to play in either man or zone. However, we have not yet seen much from Porter in terms of splash plays. This is likely why there is not much buzz surrounding his draft status.

Whether you are confident in Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace or not, they are both on incredibly cheap deals. The Steelers have two young pieces in James Pierre and Justin Layne, but 2022 could be the final chance for both of them, as neither player has been able to enjoy sustained success during the regular season. Cameron Sutton and Arthur Maulet are the other corners of note, but Sutton is a free agent in 2023, and Maulet’s deal can easily be terminated after this year as well.

At the end of the day, the Steelers will need to take a close look at cornerbacks in the next couple drafts. There is no denying the fact that this team has struggled to get the position fixed through the draft, but at some point, you have to be able to develop your own talent at a position like corner. Playing the free agent game year after year is not sustainable. If the Steelers can find that elite corner they have lacked since the days of Ike Taylor, it will alleviate any concerns I have about the looks of this secondary moving forward.

Who is your favorite corner in the 2023 draft? Which one makes the most sense for the Steelers? Would you be okay with the Steelers taking one in the first round? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review, Part 8: Inside Linebackers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over and the Steelers have added many new faces to the roster. In this series, we’ll take a look at each position and what you need to know as the offseason rolls on. In Part Eight, we’ll break down the Inside Linebackers.

The Steelers face uncertainty at a position that historically has been a strength of the team. That position is Inside Linebacker (ILB). In addition to a lack of solid depth, the group has questions at the top, with it’s 2019 1st Round selection coming off a severe injury just two seasons ago which caused a substantial reduction in performance in 2021. How does it shake out for 2022? Let’s dive right in.

The Players

Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Ulysees Gilbert III, Marcus Allen, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson

Group Breakdown

Devin Bush holds the key to the entire position group, as his ability to rebound fully from his Torn ACL in 2020 will go a long way to determine the effectiveness of the unit. I, for one, am a believer in his ability to return to form, but it is far from a guarantee. If Bush can turn back the clock pre-injury, a unit that was a liability in 2021, especially against the run, gets a major boost from one of the most athletic ILBs in the game when healthy.

The Steelers big Free Agent acquisition on the Defense was Myles Jack, the former Pro-Bowl ILB from Jacksonville. Jack’s signing didn't necessarily make sense from a stylistic approach, due to his striking similarity to Bush in that regard. However, the combination of Bush and Jack will give the Steelers one of the most athletic duos in the league. Despite not fitting the traditional role of BUCK Linebacker that would typically play opposite Devin’s spot on the Defense, the Steelers value speed and coverage ability, something Jack displays in spades.

Robert Spillane, Ulysees Gilbert, and Marcus Allen are the familiar faces playing backup roles for the guys we have already discussed. None of these three spark much confidence as spot start replacements as we currently sit. Spillane has the most in-game experience, but Gilbert and Allen represent the more athletic and versatile of the three. Gilbert is likely on his final chance to prove he can live up to that athletic potential. If he can show real improvement, you’d feel a lot better about the depth of this squad.

Buddy Johnson and 2022 Draft pick Mark Robinson don’t have much experience at ILB, but their potential is undeniable. Johnson will be given an opportunity to be a contributor in this defense and on special teams. Robinson, a collegiate Running Back for the majority of his career, shows superb but extremely raw athleticism. The Steelers are betting on Linebacker Coach Jerry Olsavsky and Brian Flores to help him grow and grow quickly.

Depth Chart Prediction

Right now the projections are less than stellar for this 2022 collection of ILBs. Despite the obvious skill of both Devin Bush and Myles Jack, the former’s confidence in his health going into the season will likely make or break the unit, and potentially the overall effectiveness of the entire Defense. If Bush isn’t a full go, the Steelers could elect to play Myles Jack more in Bush’s role while supplementing the position opposite with a mix of players including Bush and Spillane.

The team will look long and hard at potentially adding another player at ILB, although I suspect they will ride with their belief in their own ability to develop the depth talent on the roster. The players on the roster now most likely are the ones filling spots on the 53-man roster. The Steelers kept six ILBs in 2021. They could choose to do so again.

STARTERS: Devin Bush, Myles Jack

DEPTH: Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Ulysses Gilbert III, Marcus Allen

PRACTICE SQUAD: Mark Robinson

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after signing Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Now that all of the Steelers 2022 draft class is under contract, one known expense has now been accounted for.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster heading into the 2022 NFL season. While there still could be some significant swapping of players, there is always the chance something else changes things whether large or small. As reports come in of these deals well before they are official, even after pen is put to paper it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.

On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they signed their final 2022 NFL draft pick with quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Since it was known this deal would be getting done, it was estimated how much Pickett would count against the 2022 salary cap. After the numbers came in that Pickett’s cap hit this year will be $2,557,801 according to spotrac.com, it is about $330k less than the estimate given by OTC pryor to the draft. This number actually makes a lot of sense as it is exactly the number between 19th overall pick Trevor Penning and 21st overall pick Trent McDuffie. With a base salary of $705k, Pickett has a signing bonus of $7.411 million which will be spread over the four years of his contract.

If you are looking for the salary cap implications of Larry Ogunjobi, an estimation will be included at the bottom of the article.

To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2022. Players who were released, were given a tender, or had their exact salary reported are indicated below and the precise numbers are known.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, reported salaries displaced a $825k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $28.8 million

Dwayne Haskins: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$1.715 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $1.5175 million; After displacement: -$0.6925 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $1.535 million; After displacement: -$0.71 million
Mitch Trubisky: Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: Reported $2.556666 million; After displacement+: -$1.661666 million
Chuks Okorafor: Reported $4.333333 million; After displacement: -$3.508333 million
Robert Spillane: Tendered $2.433 million salary; After displacement: -$1.608 million
Marcus Allen: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
James Daniels: Reported $4.166666 million; After displacement: -$3.341666 million
Levi Wallace: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement*: -$1.672317 million
Montravius Adams: Reported $1.7675 million; After displacement+: -$0.8725 million
Zach Banner: Saved $5 million salary; After displacement: +$4.175 million
Myles Jack: Reported $4.75 million; After displacement*: -$3.90139 million
Joe Schobert: Saved $7.834 million salary; After displacement+: +$6.939 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement+: -$1.6225 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Genard Avery: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267
Trenton Scott: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
DeMarvin Leal: Reported $0.943072 million; After displacement+: -$0.048072
Bryce Watts: Released with $10k in dead money: -$0.01
Tuzar Skipper: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Stephon Tuitt: Saved $9.05 million salary; After displacement+: +$8.155 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Reported $8.124235 million; Replaced $10.612 million: +$2.487765 million
Kenny Pickett: Reported $2.557801 million; After displacement+: -$1.662801
Larry Ogunjobi: No specific report

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $21.4 million

*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)

+A $895k contract was displaced

++Displaced by each other, giving no change to the cap

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites (at the original time of publishing, before any potential updates)?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $23,106,733 under the salary cap. OTC does not have the new Pickett contract yet, but without it we had the exact same dollar amount.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $20,956,076 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts but also has Miles Boykin’s prorated bonus incorrectly counting for the Steelers instead of it sticking with the Ravens. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time either. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals.

I have said in the past how he Steelers will need as much as an additional $10.8 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year. But there is one more expense that could add to the $5 million the Steelers like to take into the season (in years past). If the Steelers elevate players from the practice squad, they must receive a full game check. Taking this into account, along with significant increases in league-minimum salaries of players who could be added to the roster if another player is injured, the Steelers may want to carry as much as another $2-3 million into the season. For this reason, a more conservative estimate of what the Steelers need to have available to start the season is $13 million.

Based on this number, the Steelers could have at least $8 million above what they need for the 2022. Even though there could be some dead money in contracts with players not making the 53-man roster, it should be offset even more by larger contracts of players who are waived.

What about Larry Ogunjobi?

On Thursday, it was reported that the one-year deal the Steelers worked out with Larry Ogunjobi will be worth up to $8 million with part of the contract being incentives. This per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The #Steelers are giving former #Bengals DT Larry Ogunjobi a one-year deal worth up to $8M including incentives, source said. After an unfortunate free agency situation with the #Bears, Ogunjobi’s foot has improved and he now has another chance to cash in next free agency.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 23, 2022

The two questions now with Ogunjobi‘s contract is how much of it is incentives, and are they in the category of ‘not likely to be earned.’ The NFL deems all incentives either as likely or not likely to be earned. Based on this designation, it determines whether or not the amounts will fall on this year’s salary cap. If an incentive is deemed not likely to be earned, It does not count on the 2022 salary cap and will go towards the 2023 cap if the player achieves the bonus. If the incentive is deemed likely to be earned, it counts on the 2022 salary cap and if the player does not earn the bonus then it is taken off of next year’s salary cap.

If all of Ogunjobi‘s incentives were deemed likely to be earned, he would count $7.105 million against the Steelers salary cap after displacement. This amount seems extremely safe to know that it is the most he could count, assuming the $8 million figure is correct.

Once the incentives and their designations are known, then an accurate figure to be given for exactly what Ogunjobi will count on the Steelers’ salary cap.

One item of note which may or may not mean anything is the NFLPA‘s salary cap report earlier this week had the Steelers with exactly $3.5 million less than what I expected their figure to be. Could this be how much Ogunjobi counted against the salary cap after displacement? It could be. If so, that would mean that Ogunjobi counted as $4.395 million in salary cap space (since the $3.5 million would be after roster displacement) for 2022 and would have approximately $3.605 million in incentives. I’m not saying this is what happened with his contract, but I’m saying that it is one possibility.

For this reason, I estimate Ogunjobi will count between $3.5 million and $7 million toward the 2022 salary cap after displacement. If I were to guess, I would not put his number being around $5 million unless the incentives are all deemed likely to be earned.

Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.

Steelers expecting to have Larry Ogunjobi ready to go for training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 6:00am
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are confident Larry Ogunjobi will be ready to go when the team reports to training camp on July 26th.

The newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries a giant ‘if’ with him. Whenever anyone is talking about Larry Ogunjobi joining the black and gold, it is likely followed up with a statement which resembles, “if he is healthy.”

Ogunjobi played well enough for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021 he was set to sign a multi-year contract with the Chicago Bears this offseason before he failed his physical. The injury is a Lisfranc injury which occurred at the end of last season and required surgery.

Hesitation on expectations certainly is warranted, but the Steelers are expecting Ogunjobi to be healthy and ready to play when the team reports to Saint Vincent College for training camp on July 26th.

This per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Steelers expecting DT Larry Ogunjobi to be ready for training camp after having Lisfranc surgery. Hey, they wouldn't have signed him if he couldn't pass their physical.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) June 23, 2022

Steelers fans who have been a fan of the team long enough will remember a similar situation with Ladarius Green. Green was a highly sought after tight end who played his entire career with the San Diego Chargers. During his time in San Diego he suffered a nasty ankle injury which required offseason surgery, and a history of concussions.

The Steelers rolled the dice, and while Green eventually got on the field, it was short-lived. You can’t control concussions, but if you remember Green missed the vast majority of training camp and the preseason with his ankle, something the Steelers are hoping to avoid with Ogunjobi.

With the team not reporting for over a month, there will be plenty of time to see if the Steelers’ latest addition will be at full strength, or if he’ll start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/24/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest four podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: The Tomlin Talk Heard Around the World

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenvent) expose the hottest and most toxic Steelers takes on the internet. This week, we break down the most important interview of Mike Tomlin’s career, and why the haters can no longer deny him. Plus, how the media missed all the important and interesting parts of Chase Claypool’s “top 3” claim. And the revisionist history of Super Bowl XLV. Join Kyle and Greg for their black-and-gold breakdown of everything “Stillers” on Twitter and beyond.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Mike Tomlin’s approach to coaching on “The Pivot”
  • Chase Claypool’s Claims
  • Revisionist Rashard
  • Matt Canada Conspiracies
  • Welcome Larry Ogunjobi?
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: Should the Steelers’ front office be satisfied with the 2022 roster?

After signing Larry Ogunjobi, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are wondering if another corner or a running back may be next on the list to pursue. However, the team may feel tat the roster is complete going into camp. Are they satisfied enough to stand pat. Join Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield, and Bryan Anthony Davis as they determine whether it’s the former or the latter for the Steelers.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Latest News
  • Are the Steelers done making moves?
  • Trivia
Let’s Ride, Friday: Why I’m rooting hard for Kenny Pickett to be QB1

.The Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback battle has been talked about a lot this offseason, but there is a rooting interest within the ranks of BTSC. Senior Editor Jeff Hartman dives into this topic, and more, on the latest episode of the Let’s Ride podcast.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Hart to Heart
  • Rooting hard for Kenny Pickett to become the Steelers QB1
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Chaz Green & Kendrick Green

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It’s Day 12 of Going For Two, featuring Chaz Green and Kendrick Green

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Chaz Green Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Tackle
Age: 30
Year: 5
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 318
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 91, 2015 (Dallas Cowboys)
College: Florida
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

After spending the majority of his rookie season on the PUP list, Chaz Green did not appear in a game his first year in Dallas. Through three seasons, he logged a total of 18 games with six starts. Failing to make the Cowboys in 2018, Green landed in New Orleans but never appeared in a game when he was cut a month later. Finishing the year with the Oakland Raiders, Green appeared in four games with one start. Not making a team in 2019, Green landed in Indianapolis for 2020 and played in 15 games with one start. On the Steelers practice squad for 2021, Green was called up for two games but only logged a total of four special teams stats. Based on the résumé, Chaz Green is a player that brings NFL experience. But at 30 years old, he is merely a depth piece and not a project for the future. For this reason, Green is unlikely to make the 53-man roster and would have to show his worth to even make the Steelers practice squad.

Kendrick Green Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Center
Age: 23
Year: 2
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 315
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 87, 2021
College: Illinois
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Appearing in 15 games his rookie season, Kendrick Green started all of them at center for the Steelers. Logging 977 snaps on offense, Green struggled a lot with inconsistent play. With the addition of Mason Cole through free agency this offseason, Green has to fight for a starting position for 2022. Whether it be at center or guard, Green will have the opportunity to win a job or else will be relegated to reserve duty for the interior of the offensive line. If Green makes a big jump in year two, it will be interesting to see if it’s enough to land a starting job.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

After signing Ogunjobi, the Steelers will have some tough decisions on the DLine

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 12:45pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers added Larry Ogunjobi, and it adds to an already defensive line room.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who had several holes to fill this offseason. Under Kevin Colbert’s guidance the team navigated the offseason with expert precision. Signings like Mitch Trubisky, James Daniels, Mason Cole and Levi Wallace gave the team a flexibility, and experience, they didn’t have after the 2021 regular season.

The moves didn’t end there when Omar Khan took over for Colbert as the team’s General Manager (GM). Khan signed Minkah Fitzpatrick to a new 5-year contract, and most recently signed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year contract.

What did the Steelers get in Ogunjobi? For a better look at the X’s and O’s of Ogunjobi’s game, check out the film room article by BTSC’s Kevin Smith below:

Outside of what Ogunjobi brings to the team on the field, he also delivers a crippling blow to some players who were vying for the final roster spot along the defensive line. The Steelers’ defensive line room has been packed with players, but lacking quality starting depth with the retirement of Stephon Tuitt. Sure, Chris Wormley filled in admirably last season, but he is a far cry from what the team needs in terms of rotational depth at the position.

This is where Ogunjobi’s impact will be felt the most. With Ogunjobi being able to rotate into the defensive line, it will save players like Tyson Alualu and Cam Heyward from having to play the majority of the snaps. Instead, the line can remain fresh without seeing a drastic drop in talent on the field.

But who will make the team, and who will be on the outside looking in when roster cuts are announced at the end of the preseason? With Ogunjobi on the team, the first question everyone has to answer is how many defensive linemen the team will keep on the 53-man roster.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume the Steelers are going to keep seven defensive linemen in 2022. Let’s take a look at who are locks to make the team, and those who will be left out.

Locks

Cam Heyward — No explanation necessary for the defensive captain.

Tyson Alualu — The aging defensive lineman still provides value.

DeMarvin Leal — You don’t cut a 3rd round draft pick.

Isaiahh Loudermilk — The Steelers traded up to get him in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he provided some great run-stopping value last year. The hope is for a big jump in 2022.

Montravius Adams — Just signed to a two-year contract, it is highly unlikely the team parts ways with Adams.

Larry Ogunjobi — Unless he isn’t healthy, which the team wouldn’t have signed him, Ogujobi will have a role on the team this year.

Chris Wormley — With one year remaining on his contract, Wormley looks to remain a valuable asset on the defense. However, if there was a player who could be moved, I have a feeling it could be Wormley.

Do the simple math above. There are seven defensive linemen right there, and a pretty solid group of linemen who could all rotate into the lineup depending on the situation. Plain and simple, the Steelers went from a cupboard which was bare last season, relying on players like Loudermilk as a rookie and Isaiah Buggs, to now having to make some tough decisions on players.

Left Out

Carlos Davis — Davis showed some promise as a rookie, but an injury-plagued 2021 has him on the outside looking in. Unless a trade or injury occurs, Davis might be on the way out or hoping for a practice squad designation.

Khalil Davis — Carlos’ brother has yet to play for the Steelers, but finds himself on the short list of those who don’t have much of a shot outside of the practice squad.

Henry Mondeaux — Mondeaux is a guy who seems to always stick around. I see it happening again in 2022, but I think it happens on the practice squad for the second year in a row.

Daniel Archibong — Best chance is to be on the practice squad.

Donovan Jeter — Best chance is to be on the practice squad.

The Steelers have a good problem when it comes to the defensive line. Better to have too many than not enough, but it doesn’t make the decision making process any easier. As I stated earlier in the article, injuries happen and if so someone like Carlos Davis will likely be the next man up. However, if the team decides to stay put they’ll absolutely have some tough decisions to make in the process.

What do you think? Who stays and goes? If there was to be a surprise cut/trade, who would it be? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for training camp at Saint Vincent College for the first time since 2019.

Burning Question: What is the ceiling/floor for the 2022 Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not expected to do much in 2022, but the fan base might disagree with these sentiments.

The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2022 regular season with a lot of uncertainty swirling around the organization. What will life with Ben Roethlisberger be like for the offense? How will Teryl Austin and Brian Flores work together as a unit? How will Austin handle the duties of defensive coordinator compared to Keith Butler? What will Omar Khan do differently than his predecessor, Kevin Colbert?

You get the picture, but what it all boils down to is how many games will the Steelers win this season?

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Steelers’ current win total is 7.5. This number is certainly staggering for the faithful fan of the black and gold, but it is the perfect example of how no one truly knows what the team will do this season.

With all that said, now is the time to let us know what you think of the 2022 Steelers. The questions are what is the ceiling, most wins if all goes well, and the floor, the worst-case scenario, for the team this year?

Here are the options:

What is the ceiling for the Steelers win total in 2022?

  • 10-12
  • 7-9
  • 6

What is the floor for the Steelers win total in 2022?

  • 4-5
  • 6-7
  • 8-9

Below you will see the SB Nation Reacts poll where you can place your votes. Be sure to vote in the poll, and then go down to the comment section and explain why you voted the way you did.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Pittsburgh Steelers fans and fans across the country.

Please take our survey

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

The 2022 season is a career-defining moment for Mike Tomlin

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL season could be a career defining moment for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, but his recent behavior suggests he feels no pressure.

The 2022 season is destined to be a revealing season for Mike Tomlin. For the first time in his illustrious career, Tomlin will be without the services of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers franchise quarterback for the past 18 seasons.

I know what you are thinking, “Didn't Roethlisberger miss the majority of the 2019 season?” Yes he did, and Tomlin and company did a masterful job of keeping the Steelers relevant and in playoff contention until the final game of the season. Kevin Colbert made a career defining move of his own by trading for All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick not long after Roethlisberger was lost for the season due to injury.

That singular move catapulted the Steelers defense towards being the best unit in the NFL, and allowed the Steelers to remain competitive even with one of the worst offenses in the league. No way that the Steelers would have had a successful season in 2019 without the acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. Yes, I consider that 8-8 season a success for Tomlin and the Steelers, especially when taking that atrocious offense into consideration.

Now, for the first time in his illustrious career, Tomlin will be without the supportive services of Ben Roethlisberger and Kevin Colbert. The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are Mike Tomlin's team, now more than ever before. I keep hearing fans discussing who will become the next face of the franchise now that Roethlisberger has retired, and I find it fascinating.

Mike Tomlin is the face of the franchise, make no mistake about it.

If you question that opinion, you must not be paying attention to the national sports media and numerous podcasts. Mike Tomlin is virtually everywhere. Like a movie star making the rounds on every late night talk show promoting their next feature film, Tomlin seems to be campaigning for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As if to assure the Steelers faithful and football fans across the world that although Roethlisberger is gone, the Steelers have every intention of remaining relevant and competing for the AFC North division.

One thing is for certain, Mike Tomlin is an individual comfortable in his own skin. He has grown so much in his Steelers tenure, both as a person and a coach. He still has the ability to utilize a ridiculous amount of words to convey very little necessary information, but we get actual glimpses into the inter sanctum of the man with far greater frequency.

Tomlin was still a relatively young man by head coaching standards when he assumed the mantle with the Steeler in 2007. It was his first rodeo, as far as being the man in charge was concerned. He made some mistakes associated with youth, such as poor time management and challenge flag decisions.

Some mistakes were the byproduct of the intense competitiveness of youth. Moments which stand out would be the "standing too close to the sidelines" moment caught on tape against the Ravens, or the infamous "Unleash Hell" statement meant to motivate the troops, but failed to inspire. I don't think those incidents even occur with the more experienced version of the man.

Tomlin displays the countenance and confidence of a man secure in his career and legacy. He works for the most stable franchise in the sport. Three head coaches in over 50 years. The Steelers organization simply doesn't make spur of the moment, knee jerk reactions. Even if Tomlin's team struggles in his first real season sans Big Ben, the Rooneys will not overreact to the situation, just like they didn't when Bill Cowher's teams struggled on occasion.

Tomlin has unique job security, so his cool and calm demeanor doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but one aspect of the situation is extremely intriguing in my opinion.

Tomlin has the perfect opportunity to silence even his most passionate critics, and extend his own NFL record setting statistic. Tomlin already has the record for the most non-losing seasons as a head coach to begin a NFL career, at 15 seasons and counting.

I feel certain Tomlin would like nothing more than to extend that record this season, considering that Ben Roethlisberger never had a losing season in his own illustrious career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have a legacy of winning, but Tomlin has the opportunity to create a legacy all his own.

If Mike Tomlin is able to guide this extremely young roster to a successful season in 2022, then he will strengthen his already Hall of Fame worthy resume. If the Steelers can exceed expectations, and actually win the AFC North division, maybe even a playoff game or two, Tomlin will achieve living legend status.

He would finally silence the critics that insist that the Steelers have accepted a standard of mediocrity for embracing and acknowledging the non-losing seasons streak.

Tomlin and the Steelers need to experience some playoff victories to get back to their winning ways.

FILM ROOM: Steelers make another smart free agent signing with DT Larry Ogunjobi

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers made yet another move on Tuesday, and this one was great for a lot of reasons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year contract on Tuesday, adding a starting-quality player to a unit that was short on proven veterans after the recent retirement of Stephon Tuitt.

Ogunjobi was a 3rd Round draft pick by Cleveland in 2017. He played four seasons there, starting 46 games over his final three years. In 2019, Ogunjobi was involved in the infamous fracas with Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph during which Browns defensive end Myles Garrett clobbered Rudolph with his helmet. Ogunjobi shoved Rudolph to the ground during the altercation, earning a one-game suspension for his actions. In 2021, he signed a one-year deal to play in Cincinnati. Ogunjobi started all 17 games with the Bengals, recording 49 tackles and 7 sacks. He injured his foot during the post-season, causing him to miss most of Cincinnati’s Super Bowl run. The Steelers were confident enough in Ogunjobi’s health to sign him. In Pittsburgh, he will compete for reps along a defensive line that now appears deep with both prospects and proven talents.

There’s a lot to like about Ogunjobi. but before we get to that, let’s address his biggest potential red flag — the injury. Ogunjobi initially sign a 3-year, $40 million contract with Chicago in the early days of free agency in March. He failed his physical, though, which negated the deal. His agreement with the Bears came only three months removed from his injury, so it’s quite possible he was not fully healed when he took his physical in Chicago. With three additional months, he obviously appeared healthier when the Steelers evaluated him. The hope is that Ogunjobi will continue to rehabilitate over the next month before he reports to training camp, and that he will be unhindered by the injury come September.

At age 28, Ogunjobi is young enough that his body should heal fairly quickly. Still, he’s a large man (6’3-310), and foot injuries can be problematic with all of that weight to bear. A player’s best “ability” is his availability, and the Steelers just went through a season where two of their three best defensive linemen were mostly unavailable. It’s understandable, then, to have concerns about Ogunjobi and to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

That said, the player the Steelers have acquired is a very good NFL defensive tackle. He’s not a superstar, but he’s the kind of player who makes life easier on superstars. Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt should be as excited as anyone in the organization with this signing. At worst, Ogunjobi will push Tyson Alualu for reps as the 1-tech tackle in Pittsburgh’s base 3-4 and as the lineman opposite Heyward in their 2-4-5 and 2-3-6 sub packages. If Alualu gets injured again or if his play falls off, Ogunjobi will step in seamlessly. He’s not a pure 1-tech the way Alualu is, but he’s better suited to play there than anyone else on the roster.

At best, the Steelers will be able to scheme him to free up Heyward. He’s an excellent penetrator, which disrupts blocking schemes and forces double teams. With all the slants and line stunts Brian Flores likes to run, I can see Ogunjobi aligning as a 2i or 3-tech and coming hard into the A-gap, drawing a double team from the center and guard and subsequently leaving Heyward one-on-one on the other side of the ball. In the passing game, Ogunjobi has an excellent get-off and is adept at pushing the pocket, thereby creating better opportunities on the edge for Watt. Like Alualu, Ogunjobi’s value may not be revealed in his own statistics but in what he’s able to do for his teammates.

Here’s some video that demonstrates these qualities in Ogunjobi’s play. First, we see him lined up on the nose last season against Kendrick Green and the Steelers. You can see his burst at the snap and his active hands. The ball comes out in typically quick Ben Roethlisberger fashion, but against a quarterback looking to hang in the pocket longer to throw a deeper developing route, this type of push would prohibit him from stepping up and away from the edge rush. That creates opportunities for Watt, who is deadly when he has a target confined to the pocket.

Here’s an example of just that. Against Minnesota, quarterback Kirk Cousins is looking to push the ball downfield to an in-cut breaking to his right. He has to hold the ball as the route progresses. This allows Ogunjobi, who is aligned on the nose, to drive the center into Cousins’ lap. Cousins can’t step up as a result, and the rush eventually converges on him:

If you watch that clip again, look at Cincinnati’s edge rushers. Neither does a bad job, but both stay blocked long enough for Cousins to find a receiver. The pressure in his face from Ogunjobi prevents that from happening. Now picture one of those edge rushers is T.J. Watt. There’s no question Watt would have gotten to Cousins faster than either player here. If Ogunjobi can create this sort of push as a pass rusher, Watt is going to benefit tremendously.

Against the run, Ogunjobi can be similarly disruptive. Here’s another clip from the contest against the Steelers. Ogunjobi has kicked over to align as a 2i on the inside shoulder of left guard Kevin Dotson (69). He will execute a slant like the ones I was referencing above when discussing how Flores moves his linemen. Ogunjobi starts in the left A-gap and rips across Green’s face into the right A-gap, forcing right guard Trai Turner to pick him up. Turner’s assignment on this play — it’s a Power RPO where Roethlisberger can hand the ball to Najee Harris or throw a quick route to his slot receiver — is to block the backside linebacker. Turner can’t get there because he’s forced to pick up Ogunjobi. Had Roethlisberger handed off to Harris, the backside backer would have run unblocked to the football. This is the hidden value a player like Ogunjobi provides. He can impact a play even if he’s not making it himself.

Ogunjobi’s quickness can make him difficult to block on the back side of plays. In the next clip, Ogunjobi is aligned as the 3-tech to the left of Minnesota’s offensive formation. He is circled in the photo below:

This is a wide zone run to the right. Minnesota’s left tackle will have the task of cutting off Ogunjobi to keep him from pursuing the play. The lead-in on this clip isn’t great, but focus on Ogunjobi’s mechanics. He quickly diagnoses the run action, gets his feet moving laterally and expertly uses his right arm to create separation from the tackle so he can’t be held (every offensive lineman at every level of football holds on backside cut-off blocks, and only the most egregious ones are called). Ogunjobi finishes the play with a good hit on running back Dalvin Cook:

This is a play Steelers’ fans grew accustomed to seeing from Tuitt. It’s easy to recognize shades of Tuitt in Ogunjobi at times. I’m not suggesting Ogunjobi is a player on Tuitt’s level. But there are similarities, more so than with any defensive lineman on Pittsburgh’s roster.

Ogunjobi’s quickness doesn’t just show up on the backside of plays. Here, circled in the photo again, he’s aligned as a 2i on the left of the defensive front:

Minnesota runs a split-zone concept right at Ogunjobi. It goes nowhere, because he dips inside the guard, beats the center and is into the backfield just as Cook receives the handoff:

Again, this is a play Steelers’ fans have seen Tuitt make. Ogunjobi is a disruptor, and will fit well in the movement-based scheme I expect the Steelers to implement.

Ogunjobi’s biggest weakness is that he’s never been a guy who can play 70 or 80% of the snaps in a given contest. He has lapses where he disappears, and if he’s forced to play a steady diet of snaps on the nose, he can wear down. Fortunately, Pittsburgh will not need him to play anywhere near that often. I anticipate Ogunjobi will split reps at nose with Alualu depending on the situation. Alualu will be there in the base 3-4 in run situations, while Ogunjobi may spell him when the Steelers want to stunt the line or create penetration. Ideally, they’d love Alualu on the field against inside zone concepts and Ogunjobi out there when teams pull their guards or run the wide zone play. The odds are slim that opposing offenses will volunteer that information ahead of time, so the Steelers will have to substitute smartly.

Ogunjobi can also play some 5-tech in the base 3-4 alongside Heyward and Alualu, where he will probably take reps from Chris Wormley. He should also see time in the nickel package due to his ability as an interior pass rusher. There will be plenty of opportunities for the proven veteran while some of the younger players in his unit, like Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal, mature.

Ogunjobi’s presence on the roster does create an interesting situation for those other players. The Steelers are likely to carry seven defensive linemen on the active roster. Heyward, Alualu and Ogunjobi, assuming there are no setbacks with his foot, are locks. That leaves four spots among the remaining group of Loudermilk, Leal, Wormley, Montravious Adams, Henry Mondeaux, Daniel Archibong, Carlos Davis and Khalil Davis. Loudermilk, Leal, Wormley and Adams seem like the favorites to lock down those spots. But it will create an intense camp battle, making defensive line one of the most interesting position groups to watch this summer.

The Ogunjobi signing is another is a string of smart free agent acquisitions the Steelers have made this off-season. It’s been an exciting one in that regard, as Pittsburgh has meticulously addressed needs at almost every position group on the roster. Whether these moves pay dividends remains to be seen. But the Steelers have proven they don’t view their first season in the post-Roethlisberger era as a wasted one. They believe they can win, and they’re doing everything they can to make it happen.

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