The Pittsburgh Steelers are adding another piece to their offensive line, reportedly signing guard Rashaad Coward. That comes via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Former #Bears OL Rashaad Coward, an RFA who was not tendered, is expected to sign with the #Steelers, source said. A former DL who worked his way into the starting lineup on offense, Coward now lands in Pittsburgh.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 29, 2021
It’s a one-year contract, according to his agent.
One-year deal for OL Rashaad Coward with the Steelers, per his agent. #Steelers
— Steelers Depot 🧐 (@Steelersdepot) March 29, 2021
Coward, 26, had spent his career with the Chicago Bears after going undrafted in 2017 out of Old Dominion. He began his career as a defensive end before being moved to the offensive line for the 2018 season. Pittsburgh’s no stranger with o-line conversions. Alejandro Villanueva and Brian Mihalik are two recent examples of defensive linemen who flipped to the other side of the trenches. Set to be a restricted free agent, the Bears chose not to tender him, allowing Coward to hit free agency.
Bizarrely, the story seemed to have first been reported on Reddit with one user saying he overheard the news while playing a game of Call of Duty. On Saturday, Coward seemed to indicate a signing was imminent.
Gods plan 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 #Thankful
— Rashaad Coward (@RashaadCoward) March 27, 2021
NFL Draft Diamonds’ Damond Talbot spoke to Coward about the news.
“I was actually on the phone with my agent, and talking about possible destinations. We had several teams showing interest, and Pittsburgh was an exciting option. I heard they could have interest and I definitely felt that was the best option for me. I feel I can come into Pittsburgh and compete right now, and after the news got out the fans were so supportive. After a few days, I asked my agent to tell Pittsburgh, I was interested in joining their team and the rest is history.
I feel deep down inside, I can help this football team on the field and be an asset to the communities surrounding the Pittsburgh area. I cannot wait to play for the Steelers.”
And moments ago, Coward tweeted out confirmation.
— Rashaad Coward (@RashaadCoward) March 29, 2021
Along the o-line, Coward has started 15 career games, all coming the past two seasons. Five of those came in 2020, coming between Week 6 and 10. Outside of those starts, he logged just seven offensive snaps the rest of the season.
He is the third veteran offensive linemen the Steelers have signed this offseason. Pittsburgh reunited with B.J. Finney on a one-year deal following his release from the Cincinnati Bengals. Last week, they signed OT/OG Joe Haeg to a two-year contract.
The Steelers are adding depth to an offensive line in transition and still determining their starting five for 2020. Depth at guard was thin with Finney penciled in as a starter right now. Over the last two years, the Steelers have lost guards Fred Johnson and Derwin Gray to waiver claims.
In a strong offensive line class, the Steelers remain likely to invest in the offensive line. At this point, adding a long-term option at center seems like their highest priority. But with Chukwuma Okorafor entering the final year of his rookie deal, Pittsburgh could also look at bolster its tackle depth later in the draft.