The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: What does the signing of Larry Ogunjobi to what now appears to be a straight one-year, $8 million contract tell us anything about Omar Khan as general manager, separate from Kevin Colbert?
Soon after the Steelers announced the retirement of Stephon Tuitt, they announced the signing of Larry Ogunjobi, a sixth-year veteran established presence in the league who has already previously agreed to a deal averaging over $13 million per season, its consummation only unachieved because of a failed physical.
The team signed him to just a one-year deal, which they rarely do for prominent free agents, but there is precedent, is there not? While the pay scale is somewhat different, we need only look back to last season when they signed Trai Turner to a one-year, $3 million contract after releasing David DeCastro because he would not be able to play.
In other words, when they had a surprise or emergency opening in a prominent place in the starting lineup, they were motivated to move and quickly rounded up a replacement on a one-year pact whom they believed would give them more than adequate play.
Another thing to consider is that, since the start of the pandemic, players have been more willing to do one-year deals in general when they don’t meet their market value. ‘Prove-it’ deals are certainly not new, but we have seen a significant increase in the use of one-year contracts that are for more than the minimum than we have in the past.
So the question is, can we really say anything about Omar Khan as general manager with this move in terms of it representing a separation from business as usual? While they tend to prefer at least two-year contracts, this was an unorthodox situation, and there’s also a shift within the players’ sphere in accepting one-year offers. So perhaps this is just the way the wind is blowing. With apparently no incentives in the deal, this feels much more ‘normal’ than it did when first reported.