Player: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Position: Outside Linebacker
Experience: 3 Years
Free Agent Status: Restricted
2020 Salary Cap Hit: $755,000
2020 Season Breakdown:
With Anthony Chickillo let go, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi had an opportunity going into the 2021 season to establish himself as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ number three edge defender, having already had two years in the team’s system.
He failed to do that, losing out to a rookie third-round draft pick who had no Spring workouts and no preseason. Granted, that says as much about how well Alex Highsmith did, and how prepared he was for the NFL level from the word go, even coming out of a small school, as it does Adeniyi.
But it is a part of his story that Adeniyi continued to be passed over for defensive playing time. Even later in the season, after Bud Dupree went down, the Steelers signed Cassius Marsh off of the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, and they turned to him to play on defense over Adeniyi.
With that being said, he has repeatedly renewed himself as a special teams player, stepping up his game in this area year after year, which is significant considering he didn’t offer much here as a rookie, even in the preseason. He played 250 special teams snaps in 2020 versus 86 on defense.
Statistically, he produced 16 total tackles, including one for a loss, with a forced fumble (the third of his career). But he has still never recorded a regular season sack, or even a quarterback hit, and that has to be a concern. He only has 157 career defensive snaps, but an edge rusher who doesn’t get sacks is a player that will have a short career.
Free Agency Outlook:
Expect Adeniyi’s situation to be similar to that of Jordan Dangerfield last year. Both were former undrafted free agents, and both were restricted free agents. As former undrafted players, tendering them at the original-round level offers the Steelers nothing in return if somebody signs them, so there is no incentive to tender him in this case.
The tender amount would be over $2 million dollars, and even that would be more than anybody would realistically pay for him right now, especially in the current market affected by the pandemic. Likely, he will go untendered and then become an unrestricted free agent.
In all likelihood, the Steelers will then re-sign him, probably for a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, especially given their lack of depth. Bud Dupree is almost sure to be gone, and Cassius Marsh and Jayrone Elliott are both unrestricted free agents. All they have is T.J. Watt and Highsmith otherwise. Somebody has to be kept around.