After blazing through the first few days of the new league year by signing a number of outside free agents and re-signing some of their own key free agents, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still on the lookout for help at safety, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Fowler, who previous covered the Steelers for ESPN before becoming a national insider, wrote in his free agency buzz piece Wednesday for all 32 teams that the Steelers are monitoring Terrell Edmunds’ market, while also keeping an eye on veterans Tyrann Mathieu and Damontae Kazee as the league enters its second full week in the new league year.
Of course, the Steelers have just three safeties currently on the 90-man offseason roster in free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and strong safeties/special teamers Miles Killebrew and Donovan Stiner, so they are certainly in the market for safety help.
“After an uncharacteristically active free agency in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are still on the lookout for safety help,” Fowler writes. “Yes, we hear the chatter about Tyrann Mathieu, who plays with the kind of edge that would seamlessly fit in Pittsburgh. But Pittsburgh also is monitoring Terrell Edmunds, a four-year starter with the Steelers who is yet to sign anywhere. A reunion is not off the table. And a wild-card option is free safety Damontae Kazee, who played for Dallas last season. He is known as a ball hawk who can play multiple spots. The Steelers have him on their radar.”
Mathieu, just 29 years old, is the hot name that everyone in the fan base seemingly wants, considering his fit at strong safety next to Fitzpatrick and what that type of add from a leadership and talent perspective it would allow new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and head coach Mike Tomlin to do defensively in 2022 as the Steelers transition into a new era.
Of course, the easy decision could be to re-sign Edmunds on a relatively affordable deal very similar to the one that Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon landed in free agency, allowing the Steelers to bring back a guy who has played more than 4,000 snaps in the black and gold and is a dependable, available commodity at safety.
Kazee is an interesting name, one that hadn’t really come to mind at all in free agency to this point. A fifth-round pick out of San Diego State in 2017, Kazee spent four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and last season with the Dallas Cowboys, remaining tied to the hip of Dan Quinn, who was his head coach in Atlanta and then the defensive coordinator in Dallas. Kazee has played in 69 career games with 49 starts, having recorded 251 tackles, three tackles for loss, 12 interceptions, 17 passes defensed, and seven forced fumbles.
Kazee led the NFL in interceptions in 2018 with seven.
According to Pro Football Focus’s top 200 free agent rankings and contract projections, Mathieu was the third-best safety on the market heading into the new league year and remains the top safety on the board. He’s projected to land a three-year, $48.75 million deal with $30.75 million guaranteed, but considering he’s been on the market this long, the contract he eventually signs will come nowhere close to what he was projected at.
Edmunds was projected to land a three-year, $15 million deal with $7.75 million guaranteed, which is still a reasonable projection considering his age (25) and his experience. Kazee was not on the top 200 ranking, but he’s just 28 years old and graded out at a 60.9 overall from PFF in 2021.