The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason is now officially underway as of this past Sunday afternoon and between now and the start of the 2023 league year in March the team will need to make several decisions regarding the players scheduled to become free agents. In this post, we’ll look at the two Steelers players currently scheduled to become exclusive rights free agents at the start of the new league year.
Exclusive rights free agent (ERFA): Any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
LS Christian Kuntz – Kuntz was once again the Steelers long snapper for the entire 2022 regular season. It was his second full season as the Steelers’ long snapper after beating out then-incumbent Kameron Canaday for the job during the team’s 2021 training camp and the offseason. In total, Kuntz played 141 special team snaps in 2022 on is way to registering one total special teams tackle. Pro Football Focus has Kuntz down for a grade of 37.0 for the 2022 season and that obviously is not great. The Steelers are nearly guaranteed to give Kuntz a one-year, $940,000 exclusive rights tender so that he can compete for a 2023 roster spot again. Even if that’s the course of action with Kuntz, the team could decide to bring in some competition for Kuntz during the offseason and that might be advisable. He will be the odds-on favorite to be the Steelers long snapper again in 2023 until some sort of competition arrives and pushes him. Assuming Kuntz sticks on the roster again for an entire 2023 season, he will be scheduled to be a restricted free agent a year from now.
OLB Jamir Jones – Jones was back with the team again as of early September and not only did he make the 53-man roster, but he also went on to dress and play in all 17 games this season. Jones logged 86 defensive snaps in 2022 and another 251 on special teams, the fifth-most such snaps on the Steelers. He ended the 2022 season with seven total defensive tackles and one pass defensed. He gave up one completion for 13 yards in coverage in 2022 as well. Additionally, Jones had three special teams tackles in 2022 as a member of the punt and kickoff coverage units. The Steelers had Jones on their 2022 team mostly because of his special teams ability. He’s not much of an outside linebacker when it comes to pass rushing and that will hurt his cause moving forward. Even so, Jones will be easily retained by the Steelers via a one-year $940,000 exclusive rights tender, which would allow for him to compete for a roster spot in 2023. Just like with Kuntz, I will be surprised if Jones is not tendered this offseason. Should Jones somehow still be on the team a year from now, he will likely qualify to be a restricted free agent in 2024.