There are some pretty good experienced NFL players starting to hit the market the last few weeks with the new league year looming and a few of them will certainly turn into bargains for a team or two. Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be one of those teams that might could take advantage of an overflowed veteran free agent pool in a depressed salary cap year? It’s quite possible and especially when it comes to the center position.
We have already talked and written about how the Steelers are likely to find themselves a cheap center in the coming weeks and ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft on the heels of veteran center Maurkice Pouncey retiring a few weeks ago. On that list of center possibilities that we have noted recently is former Houston Texans center Nick Martin. On Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton even commented on Martin during his 93.7 The Fan interview and how he might be a good fit for the Steelers.
“Nick Martin was making $11 million in Houston as a center,” Clayton said. “He’s a pretty good center and he’s going to be available. You might be able to get him for $5 million a year.”
$5 million a year? Well, that still might be a little rich for the Steelers blood as they would have some trouble accommodating a cap charge in 2021 greater than $4 million. If, however, Martin’s price tag came in closer to $3 million, it would certainly put him in striking distance for the Steelers.
Martin, who will turn 28 in April, is the younger brother of Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin. He was a second-round pick by the Texans in 2016 out of Notre Dame. Martin signed a three-year, $33 million contract extension with the Texans in March of 2019 with $18.5 million of it being guaranteed. The Texans parted ways with Martin last week after he had started 62 out of 62 games that he played in since 2016 at center.
The Steelers would need to sign Martin at a cheap enough price so that they could still address the center position at some point during the 2021 NFL Draft. That’s usually how the team goes about addressing hard needs such as this over the years.
Currently, the Steelers don’t have any true centers under contract for the 2021 season following the retirement of Pouncey a few weeks ago. While the team is expected to exclusive rights tender former undrafted free agent center J.C. Hassenauer in the next two weeks, if they haven’t already done so, he’s more of a stopgap player at the position and thus the team still would need to find a more viable option and one with experience.
Will Martin be a target of the Steelers in the next few weeks? It’s possible and especially if he is joined soon by a few other veteran centers looking for a new team.