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Trai Turner Named Steelers’ Most Improved Player

In an offseason full of lists, at least this one isn’t a mock draft. Instead, Pro Football Focus put together a list of the most improved player from each team this season. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, that man was OG Trai Turner.

According to PFF, Turner’s score shot up more than 33 points compared to the year before. Here’s what author Anthony Treash had to say about Turner’s improvement:

“Turner was traded to the Chargers in the 2020 offseason, but his lone year in the L.A. powder blue and yellow went very poorly. The injury-riddled campaign ended in a 34.8 PFF grade. Turner was subsequently cut in the 2021 offseason and picked up by the Steelers, where he returned to his old form with the Panthers. His 68.1 PFF grade ranked a respectable 30th among 79 qualifying guards.”

Turner’s grade went up 33.3 points, one of the largest jumps on the list. Only Packers’ LB De’Vondre Campbell and Raiders’ DE Maxx Crosby had bigger improvement scores.

Importantly, Turner was able to stay (mostly) healthy throughout the season, starting all 17 games. It was the first time he started an entire season wire-to-wire since 2016. A year ago, he started just nine games for the Chargers. Turner was signed by the Steelers in the offseason after David DeCastro’s ankle injuries persisted, leading to his release.

Turner brought physicality and much-needed leadership to a new and young group, but his play was a mixed bag. While PFF notes improvement, they also point out he was just the 30th-best guard, finishing slightly above average. In our recent scouting report on him, we noted his ability to create movement in the run game and show his physical side in pass protection, but he struggled too much with finesse and speed rushers while committing too many penalties.

He’s set to hit free agency next month. It’s unknown if the Steelers will look to re-sign him or if they’ll search for an upgrade. Turner is one of two key free agency decisions along the offensive line. Right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor is also set to hit the market, and re-signing him will likely cost more than Turner. The team will also have to decide what to do with Zach Banner. Releasing him would save the team $5 million prior to roster displacement.

Around the AFC North, Ravens LB Josh Bynes, Browns LB Anthony Walker, and Bengals QB Joe Burrow were named most-improved for their teams.

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