Steelers go big amidst rapid flurry of NFL free agency moves

Another day of rapid flurry free agency moves in the National Football League, another busy day for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they went big in securing player signings while general manager Omar Khan, head coach Mike Tomlin, and other staff made pre-2023 NFL Draft visits. The Steelers didn’t go on a massive, costly shopping spree, but they did add players that fit into pivotal areas of their squad.

Khan has shown that he’s unafraid of putting in the work ahead of Wednesday, the first official day of the next football season. On Tuesday, as players across the league accepted offers, the Steelers secured futures with two in-house free agents, had one depart, and added a player that looks to figure into their long game on the offensive side of the ball.

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Spillane among linebacker blitz

Tuesday was a day that featured a blitz of free agency moves among available linebackers. Robert Spillane, who has played primarily as a stop-gap within the Steelers’ inside linebacker group alongside Devin Bush and Myles Jack, received an offer from the Las Vegas Raiders. The former undrafted free agent, that made it from Pittsburgh’s practice squad and then the 53-man roster, accepted a two-year offer worth a maximum of $9 million (estimated $4 million guaranteed) to head west.

Some of the other names believed to have been on the Steelers’ radar who also agreed to deals included Leighton Vander Esch (re-signed with Dallas Cowboys), Bobby Okereke (Colts to Giants), and Kyzir White (Eagles to Cardinals).

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Ogunjobi to remain in Pittsburgh

The Steelers came to an agreement with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi on a three-year, $28.7 million deal as they addressed defensive line needs. Ogunjobi was an important part of the improved run-stopping ability of the Pittsburgh defense last season.

Although fans expressed concerns over Ogunjobi’s health status after he dealt with back, knee, and foot issues in 2022, he was still effective with seven tackles for a loss, 11 quarterback hits, numerous assisted stops, and 1.5 sacks. The Steelers are bankrolling the majority of the contract up-front, however, to a guy that was a presence in 16 games and can provide the organization options as they build for future defensive line development without a long-term risk.

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Kazee returns to bolster defensive backfield

Damontae Kazee was phenomenal during training camp and the preseason before suffering a wrist injury that limited his play to mainly the second half of the season. The young safety came back strong, grabbing two interceptions in four starts. Kazee also played a pivotal role in Pittsburgh’s use of a three-safety set with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds when it was utilized.

The new deal between Pittsburgh and Kazee was reported as a two-year agreement with no dollar amount announced at the time.

With Edmunds still available as a free agent, Kazee is a great value, no-risk, insurance policy should the Steelers be unable to make a new agreement to retain the more experienced safety.

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Steelers all-in on Herbig

Pittsburgh addressed offensive line questions ahead of the draft, to the surprise of some fans. They came to a two-year agreement with Nate Herbig to leave the New York Jets worth a reported $8 million ($4 million estimated guaranteed money). Steelers assistant general manager Andy Weidl, who came to Pittsburgh recently in order to assist Khan,  became acquainted with Herbig’s abilities when the  Philadelphia Eagles signed the offensive guard as an undrafted free agent in 2019.

A versatile lineman, Herbig was a low-risk, high-value signing and is likely to earn a starting spot as soon as camp for Pittsburgh. The majority of his starts have been at right guard, but he has the ability to adapt along the offensive line. The Steelers watched their front five improve throughout last season but knew they’d need more depth and experience, which made this signing an excellent choice as they continue to scout collegiate players ahead of the draft.


Steel City Underground will continue to cover 2023 NFL free agency and Steelers news throughout the free agency period on both the site and across their social media platforms. 

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