CBS Sports Lists Commanders DT Daron Payne As Free Agent Steelers Should Sign

Only one more football game will be played this season, then comes the offseason. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, their season is already over and they need to be looking at ways to improve their team. While the NFL Draft is one obvious way, another good way is to sign good free agents to fill holes on the team.

Today, CBS Sports writer Jordan Dajani came out with a list of one free agent each team should sign. For the Steelers, Dajani wrote that they should sign Washington Commanders DT Daron Payne.

“Daron Payne is coming off of a career year in which he recorded 64 combined tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20 QB hits and five passes defended,” wrote Dajani. “It’s difficult to stand out on a defensive line that features Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and Chase Young, but Payne absolutely did, and made his first Pro Bowl.”

Other than his impressive play, a reason Payne could be on the Steelers’ radar is due to the question marks they have at defensive line. While Cameron Heyward is under contract and will be back, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, and Tyson Alualu are all pending free agency.

With this being the case, Pittsburgh going out of its way to sign Payne could make some sense. After a good season, pairing him with Heyward, who is now also a Pro Bowler, would strengthen an already strong front seven.

The way the Steelers are currently built is to win through a lights-out defense and have quarterback Kenny Pickett not shoot them in the foot. It worked in the second half of the season as T.J. Watt returned and Pickett began to get more comfortable in the offense and the Steelers went 7-2 after their bye week.

Payne is also only 25 years old. With Heyward aging and the rest of the non-free agent defensive linemen being young, he is a good bridge in the gap for when Heyward eventually decides to hang up his cleats. Signing Payne can also push the need of a defensive tackle in the draft back a bit. Currently, it is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest needs, but if they decide to sign Payne to a long-term deal it won’t be so urgent anymore.

Payne would be a smart signing, but at the end of the day, it will all come down to money. Coming off a Pro Bowl season, Payne may ask for more than the Steelers are willing to spend. And with the ability to re-sign Ogunjobi and/or Wormley and then add to the DT room with a draft pick, Pittsburgh may not want to spend the money that Payne may be looking for.

Payne will be a name to monitor this offseason, as will most free agent interior linemen. But like many of them, he may not be in the Steelers’ desired price range. Either way, the Steelers will most certainly be addressing the defensive tackle room this offseason, Payne or not.

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