They weren’t flash, and they definitely make any national headlines with the moves, but the Pittsburgh Steelers quietly have caught the national media’s attention when it comes to their moves in free agency, especially on offense.
Of course, we’re talking about the additions of outside free agents in quarterback Mitch Trubisky and offensive linemen Mason Cole and James Daniels, not to mention the retaining of their own free agent in offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, making for quite a first few days of free agency for the black and gold and General Manager Kevin Colbert.
On paper, the moves aren’t flashy — when are they truly ever in the trenches? But the moves addressed major needs for the Steelers entering the 2022 season and has one CBS Sports writer in Jared Dubin “intrigued.”
Bears OG/C James Daniels is the top free agent I want the Steelers to go after.
– Center/guard versatility (I'd play him at RG)
– Only 24 years old
– Long arms, aggressive player (fits new OL Coach)
– Burst + drive/down blocking
Won't be cheap but worth it. RG in these clips. pic.twitter.com/3D6ERTvagl
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) March 10, 2022
Dubin named the Steelers’ trio of outside free agency moves offensively as one of his six intriguing FA moves from teams, including the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Giants.
“The Steelers settled on Mitchell Trubisky as the (short-term, at least) successor to Ben Roethlisberger,” Dubin writes. “For him to have success, he’ll have to be well-protected. Bringing in one of his former Bears teammates in Daniels, who is both still very young and already a quality guard, is a good move. Cole has been an average-ish center during his career, and did not cost that much. Pittsburgh also re-signed veteran offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year, $29.5 million deal that includes $20.5 million guaranteed, making it clear that it values the offensive line in front of Trubisky.”
— BlitzburghUSAVideos (@sdextrasmedia) March 15, 2022
One year after failing to add veteran pieces to an offensive line that was forced to rebuild on the fly following the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey, the release of David DeCastro, and the departures of Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler in free agency, Colbert wasn’t going to make the same mistake again this offseason, throwing more than $52 million in free agency at Cole and Daniels, and another $29.25 million at Okorafor along the offensive line, ensuring there’s depth and experience overall.
With Trubisky, he profiles as a solid bridge quarterback in the first year post-Ben Roethlisberger, allowing the Steelers to have some stability under center while also offering them the flexibility in the 2022 NFL Draft to chase the next franchise quarterback.
Not to be overlooked is the signing of Mason Cole. I broke down his film for @Steelersdepot this morning. A steady, versatile iOL that I like at center much more than guard. #Steelers https://t.co/y0oxmtO9k6 pic.twitter.com/n3VM9A4L09
— Josh Carney (@ByJoshCarney) March 15, 2022
Though they aren’t eye-opening moves, the additions of Cole, Daniels and Trubisky and the retention of Okorafor makes the Steelers’ offense relatively better in 2022, at least in the trenches, which brings some intrigue to the table in Year 2 under offensive coordinator Matt Canada.