Player: Daniel McCullers
Position: Nose Tackle
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2018 Salary Cap Hit: $880,000
2018 Season Breakdown:
Ah, Daniel McCullers, the inspiration for many unusual debates for such a marginal piece of the Steelers’ 53-man roster. Originally drafted in the sixth round several years back, the team described him at the time as a very large man and as an obstruction.
While those two descriptions proved accurate, that didn’t necessarily translate into some diamond in the rough. He spent his first four seasons largely in former defensive line coach John Mitchell’s doghouse, but seemed to have a better time working with Karl Dunbar this past season.
That translated into slightly more playing time, a little over 100 snaps, and he even recorded a sack and five total ‘stops’ for his efforts, but that doesn’t paint a fully accurate picture of his performance, which continued to include slow get-offs and poor leverage, even a couple of missed tackles.
The Steelers did make him earn his spot this past season, drafting Joshua Frazier in the seventh round, who was coached by Dunbar at Alabama the year before. Frazier never really got a hang of things, however, and in fact he barely was given snaps in the preseason because of it. He is now in the AAF.
Free Agency Outlook:
Can he really find his way back to Pittsburgh yet again? The Steelers continue to display some amount of intrigue in McCullers at some level, best exemplified by their decision to re-sign him to a one-year contract after his rookie deal expired following the 2017 season.
They drafted Frazier in the hopes that he could win the last spot on the defensive line, but it shouldn’t necessarily be a shock that a seventh-round pick wasn’t able to beat out a four-year veteran who at least knew the playbook and has experienced the level of competition at this level.
2018 was arguably McCullers’ ‘best’ season, but that really didn’t say much at all. He did manage to play over 100 snaps, but he is never going to give you what you’re looking for as a pass rusher, which is what the priority now is in the NFL. That’s just the reality.
It’s certainly not inconceivable that the Steelers offer him another one-year qualifying contract, especially with Tyson Alualu and L.T. Walton also hitting free agency. You would figure that they have to try to re-sign at least one or two of them, right?
Outside of Pittsburgh, he probably won’t have much of a market. He might find a one-year deal somewhere, but it also wouldn’t be shocking if he is playing for the Birmingham Iron in 2020.