It’s that time of year again. Free agency is creeping up in just a couple of weeks, so before we get there, we’ll get going over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, position by position, making an assessment of what kind of shape they’re in, trying to figure out how they might, or should, attack the roster on that basis.
The Steelers have several key players due to become free agents shortly, and a number of large contracts could be salary cap casualties, so a lot will be changing in the near future, but this is where things stand, at each position, as of this writing.
Position: Defensive End
Total Positional Figure: 5
Cameron Heyward: The fact that it took so much just for Heyward to get into the Pro Bowl in 2022 is ludicrous. There’s no question that he played at a Pro Bowl level and deserved to get in by the first round of voting. There’s little left to be said about him that hasn’t been said 10 times over.
DeMarvin Leal: A third-round rookie out of Texas A&M, Leal got a surprising amount of playing time, particularly early on while T.J. Watt was sidelined due to injury. He showed flash but remained raw. What the future holds for him is not yet known, nor even exactly what his position will be, but perhaps a hybrid role is how he’s best suited.
Isaiahh Loudermilk: Loudermilk suffered an injury setback in training camp that dragged into the regular season for some time. Indeed, while he was not placed on the Reserve/Injured List, he spent a fair chunk of the year inactive. His playing time plummeted when Watt returned, but got a few more snaps after Chris Wormley’s injury.
Pending Free Agents:
Larry Ogunjobi: A six-year veteran who’s already been three quarters of the way through the AFC North, Ogunjobi had a somewhat average season coming off of a foot injury. He also suffered through a number of injuries while in Pittsburgh, yet he’s (rightfully) regarded as a priority to re-sign if he can come affordably.
Chris Wormley: Having now spent half of his career with the Steelers, Wormley is going to be an unrestricted free agent next week. And he’s recovering from a torn ACL. It’s likely that he goes unsigned for a while at least until he’s closer to returning to the field.
As mentioned, the priority here is to figure out where Ogunjobi’s market stands and whether or not they can accommodate a new contract for him. They had him on a one-year, $8 million contract in 2023, but surely he will be looking for a multi-year deal this time.
They can’t stop there, however. The future for the defensive line is now, or just about. Heyward isn’t getting any younger. If they have a blue-chipper on the board, they can’t shy away from him in the draft, provided that he is on the top of their rankings—and in this class, he well might be.