Player: Larry Ogunjobi
Position: Defensive Line
Experience: 6 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2022 Salary Cap Hit: $8,000,000
2022 Season Breakdown:
Added in June out of necessity when they learned they would be lacking a starter, Larry Ogunjobi was signed to a one-year, $8 million contract as a prove-it deal that was more about his health than his level of play. Both his health and his play for the Steelers in 2022 did not quite rise to the hoped-for level.
Statistically, he had one of his least effective seasons as a pass rusher, limited to just a sack and a half and 11 quarterback hits, though his tape looks better in that department than his numbers indicate. He also had seven tackles for loss, which is representative of what he showed, but also somewhat average for a player having logged in excess of 600 snaps.
The fact that Ogunjobi was present on most injury reports, sometimes even missing most or all of a week of practice, often with a toe injury, does raise some red flags. The Steelers were willing to take a one-year flier on him while they were in a bind. Do they believe enough in his health and level of play to make a multi-year commitment for a high-dollar figure?
Free Agency Outlook:
This is an interesting one. Always a solid player or better, Ogunjobi had a breakout season during a Super Bowl run in a one-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. He seemed to have parlayed that into a three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears last March only to have the team rescind the offer after they were not satisfied with the results of his physical.
They were not comfortable with what they found in his recovery from a foot injury, and neither was anybody else at the time, so he sat unsigned for months until the Steelers added him in June after Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement, giving him a one-year, $8 million deal.
The premise was that he would put together another strong season and cash in the way he ought to have the year before. But did he have that type of season? While he played well, I don’t know that he will find an eight-figure suitor.
And this could be a robust free agency class for interior defensive linemen, even if some of the top names are longer in the tooth. Those names include Javon Hargrave, by the way, but also A’Shawn Robinson, Poona Ford, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Da’Ron Payne.
Ogunjobi should be able to land a multi-year contract now that he’s healthier, but I would expect the range to be representative of his 2022 market, falling somewhere between $8-10 million per season. I doubt he would rush to re-sign with the Steelers for less than that without hitting the open market.