Will the Pittsburgh Steelers sign any notable outside unrestricted free agents this offseason? When you look at their current salary cap situation with a little more than five weeks to go before the start of free agency, it’s hard to imagine them signing any outside free agents for much more than minimum. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, however, seems to disagree with my speculation as he has the Steelers as the best fit for possibly one of the top free agent cornerbacks in 2021.
In his Tuesday post on best free agent fits for the perceived top 50 free agents of 2021, Fowler has current Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson III being the perfect fit for the Steelers this offseason. Below is Fowler’s reasoning for linking the former first-round draft pick to the Steelers.
The Steelers wanted to draft Jackson 25th overall in 2017. He went 24th to Cincinnati, and the team chose Artie Burns, who fell out of favor and is now in Chicago. Corner doesn’t seem like a major need, but starters Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are 2022 free agents, and Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton are free agents this March. Haden turns 32 in April. Getting Jackson covers Pittsburgh for any scenario. The Steelers face tough decisions at almost every position.
Man, I wonder if Fowler really knows the Steelers current salary cap situation. He should and mainly due to him covering the Steelers beat for several years. Assuming he believes the Steelers won’t be moving on from either of their two current starting cornerbacks, Steven Nelson, and Joe Haden, it’s hard to take his speculation that Jackson could wind up landing with the Steelers this offseason serious.
Whatever extra salary cap space the Steelers do manage to carve out in these next five weeks, one would think that the team would attempt to re-sign one of their own two soon-to-be free agent cornerbacks, Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton. Jackson seems like he would be a huge outside free agent luxury for the Steelers with nearly five weeks to go before the signing period begins.
It’s true that the Steelers were interested in drafting Jackson five years ago and had he slipped down the board one more spot to them, they likely would have. That’s all water underneath the bridge at this point just like the player they ultimately chose after the Bengals picked Jackson; cornerback Artie Burns.
So, what is Jacksons estimated worth with a little more than five weeks to go before the start of free agency? According to Pro Football Focus, it’s $13.33 million per season. They went as far to predict that Jackson will ultimately re-sign with the Bengals and get a three-year, $40 million contract that includes $22.5 million in total guaranteed money of which$18 million of that would be fully guaranteed at signing. Yeah, the Steelers aren’t going to spend that kind of money on any free agent this offseason. It’s a nice thought, but no way it happens.