The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: Who will start at defensive end opposite Cameron Heyward in 2023?
This is one of the big questions of the offseason, and frankly, one I’m not entirely sure is getting as much attention as it should. The Steelers, of course, have options, but none are simultaneously cheap and with minimal risk.
The most obvious option would be to try to keep Larry Ogunjobi, who started there last season. They only landed him because of an injury that caused the Chicago Bears to renege on a three-year deal worth over $10 million per season. They ended up signing him on a one-year deal worth $8 million, but such contracts are generally signed for the purchase of getting right back on the market.
We can argue, I suppose, that there are two in-house candidates who are under contract for 2023, including 2022 third-round draft pick DeMarvin Leal. A talented and young athlete, he would have to add weight if he were going to play on the line of scrimmage on a full-time basis.
The other in-house option is Isaiahh Loudermilk, whose 2022 season as a follow-up to his rookie year was borderline nonexistent. He played just 116 snaps and spent some time during the year as a healthy scratch.
As far as Chris Wormley goes, he suffered an ACL injury barely a month ago, so even if they were to re-sign him—which they would likely wait to do until deep into the offseason—there is a chance he wouldn’t even be ready to play at the start of the year.
The good news is that they have time to figure this all out. They will have the open market to look at if they don’t re-sign Ogunjobi, and of course, drafting a defensive lineman very high is a distinct possibility—one that many fans are hoping for.