Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: DL Larry Ogunjobi
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers announced on Tuesday that they agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free-agent defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi on what was later reported to be a deal worth up to $8 million through incentives.
We were all wondering how the Steelers would address the vacant 90th spot on their offseason roster. Since it coincided with the retirement of Stephon Tuitt, which had the silver lining of providing them with considerable cap relief, nobody was surprised that they sought to add a significant piece to replace what they had lost.
While Larry Ogunjobi will certainly not be a one-for-one replacement for Tuitt, he will significantly lighten the load of the rest of the group, including stalwart Cameron Heyward, who may not have to play nearly 1,000 snaps this season.
Now in his sixth season, Ogunjobi is a proven talent, even if he remains somewhat underrated. He agreed to terms with the Chicago Bears earlier this offseason on a three-year deal worth $40.5 million, but a failed physical nixed the deal.
Now he will be playing on a one-year prove-it deal with the Steelers to show the league that he is healthy and capable of playing at the same level at which he has been performing, which last season included a one-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals that saw him post a career-high seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits.
Of course, the real question is what he can offer the Steelers—not just in what capacity on the field, but for what availability. He did fail a physical for the Bears due to a foot injury. The Steelers wouldn’t have signed him if they weren’t comfortable with where he was and where they anticipate he’ll be by the start of the regular season, but there’s no guaranteeing these things. And foot injuries can be tricky.
Assuming that he is good to go, though, he should be able to play up and down the Steelers’ line if that is what they ask him to do, both in the base and nickel, whether inside or outside. Given that they will primarily be playing in sub-packages, he should have no difficulty functioning as a rush defensive tackle, but he’s no slouch in run support, either.