2022 Offseason Questions: Will Larry Ogunjobi Be A Starter For Steelers?

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: Will Larry Ogunjobi be a starter for the Steelers this year?

$8 million for one year, even considering the unorthodox-for-the-Steelers incentives that actually bring it up to that amount, is a lot of money for a player who isn’t starting. He has also been a starter throughout his career since year two. So why wouldn’t Larry Ogunjobi be a starter for them?

After all, he was only signed after Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement, and acquired essentially with cash and cap space that they saved because of that. Is Chris Wormley really so much of an obstacle toward him being plugged into the ‘starting’ lineup, such that the relatively small percentage of snaps in ‘base’ defense can be called a starting group?

Given that the Steelers will play the majority of their snaps in nickel and dime packages with two down linemen, I’m having a hard time believing that anybody but Ogunjobi will be the player who lines up most often next to Cameron Heyward as their primary alignment.

Wormley did make some strides as a pass rusher last season, but why would the Steelers continue to view him as their number two behind Heyward when they have Ogunjobi? Even if it is a one-year commitment—and, by the way, Wormley’s contract expires after this season, too—who would argue that Ogunjobi isn’t the one who should be on the field most often? And for that matter, why would the Steelers have agreed to pay him what they did if they didn’t intend to play him, unless his contract consists of more than half of incentive packages that have a good chance of not being earned?

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