Now that the NFL Combine has come and gone, many football fans will undoubtedly look forward to free agency, in hopes that their team can add those crucial pieces of their ultimate Super Bowl puzzle. The Steelers are no different, with needs on both sides of the ball that need to be addressed before they can stake their claim as being mentioned in the same sentence as some other NFL heavyweights.
The one area that arguably needs fortified the most is along the offensive line. Recently, different sports outlets have suggested the team sign bigger names like centers Ryan Jensen or Bradley Bozeman, and guard Laken Tomlinson. However, one player that’s going a bit under the radar is the Chicago Bears’ James Daniels.
A second-round draft pick in 2018 out of Iowa, Daniels is viewed leaguewide as one of the better interior linemen. Making 31 of 37 career starts, with 23 at guard and eight at center, his rookie deal expired at the end of last season and now the 6’4″, 327-pounder is set to test the waters in free agency.
According to PFF, Daniels ranks fifth on their interior linemen free agent list, and still just 24 years old, his pedigree and positional versatility are both items that the front office usually is attracted to when making such decisions. A $10 million per year or so deal could easily be attainable as the team looks to add reinforcements. It would also afford them some time to see where Kendrick Green’s best spot truly is, whether at center or elsewhere. It’s also worth noting that with Daniels’ age, even signing a multi-year deal now absolutely would leave the door open on him signing another one down the road at some point.
With the rumor mill swirling in full effect, it’s easy to correlate the team to the more popular and higher profile free agent signings, especially with more salary cap room than they’ve had in years. They will have competition though, even from within the division, as the Cincinnati Bengals look to build up front and protect star QB Joe Burrow. With roughly $48 million in cap space, the Bengals may look to kill a few birds with one stone, fortifying their own line while also spending up, and playing keep away from a division rival.
The Steelers need to get better in the trenches, for the sake of running back Najee Harris but also to usher in the next QB, whether that be a rookie or a veteran. Whatever the case, Daniels seems like a super low-key signing that the team has grown accustomed to over the years. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.