Coming off of a dominant 2021 season that saw him record a career-high 7.0 sacks for the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular season, Larry Ogunjobi appeared to be in line for a huge pay day as one of the premier interior defensive linemen on the open market.
A Lisfranc foot injury in the Bengals’ Wild Card win over the Las Vegas Raiders ended his season prematurely, causing him to miss the Bengals’ run to the Super Bowl, but the standout defensive tackle was still in line for a big pay day. The Chicago Bears put faith in him early in free agency, inking him to a three-year, $40.5 million deal, including $26.35 million guaranteed.
A failed physical ended that pact, leading to him eventually landing with the Steelers on a one-year deal that could reach $8 million with incentives, giving the Steelers a disrupting defensive lineman to replace Stephon Tuitt, who retired this offseason.
Appearing on Movin’ The Chains on SiriusXM Radio with hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan, Ogunjobi talked about the cards he was dealt with the injury and the decision by the Bears to rescind the contract, while also detailing his rehab that remains ongoing in the buildup to training camp.
“Injury sucks for every athlete. Nobody ever wants to get injured and how things happen kind of sucked too, but you know, you gotta take it in stride,” Ogunjobi told Miller and Kirwan, according to audio via SiriusXM. “My motto in life is: outlook determines outcome. So for me, the biggest thing was just taking the cards that I was dealt and finding a way to make the most of them.
“That was training and sticking to my regimen, attacking rehab, staying focused,” Ogunjobi added. “Faith through the facts is one of the things I had to learn. Everything happens for a reason. I did a good job of just staying focused and just keeping what was in front of me in front of me. I know the player I am, I know what I can bring to the table. Injuries happen, but it’s how you respond.”
Ogunjobi hasn’t quite had a chance to show what type of player he is after the injury, especially after failing the physical with the Bears. However, he’s stepping into a great situation in Pittsburgh on a one-year deal surrounded by high-end talent in T.J. Watt, Cameron Hayward, Myles Jack, and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The Steelers know what type of player he is when healthy, as he’s wreaked havoc on the AFC North throughout his time with the Bengals and Cleveland Browns in his young career. Now, he’s aiming to do the same in the black and gold. With less than a month to go until the start of his first training camp with the Steelers, Ogunjobi stated to Kirwan and Miller that he’s continuing to attack rehab vigorously and is ready to get back to playing football.
“Rehab is going really well. I’m getting better each and every week,” Ogunjobi said, according to audio via SiriusXM. “We have a plan in place to…have me ready when, you know, live bullets are flying.”
We’ll see how the Steelers utilize him throughout training camp and preseason, considering the injury he’s coming off of. He clearly passed Pittsburgh’s physical though, so there should be no limitations for the disruptive interior defensive tackle.