Steelers Group Of Free Agents Ranked Among League’s Worst

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ crop of upcoming free agents may not be the best when compared to the rest of the league, but the guys the Steelers do have hitting the market have played a big role for the team. Despite that, CBS Sports ranked the Steelers’ upcoming free agents the 29th-best in the NFL.

One caveat to note is that for whatever reason, the list includes players the team cut for salary cap purposes. So, for example, Bobby Wagner being released by the Los Angeles Rams “elevated” their ranking on the list. This isn’t a list where it’s good to be high, so the Steelers ranking at No. 29 is technically “good” in this case, as it means they aren’t losing a lot of talent relative to the rest of the league.

Despite that, the Steelers could potentially lose some key pieces to their defense. Cameron Sutton was the team’s top cornerback this past season, and the team is going to make it a priority to bring him back. The only other player besides Sutton listed as a top free agent by CBS Sports was Terrell Edmunds, who had his best year as a pro as the veteran in a young secondary in 2022.

“Sutton is the best free agent in an underwhelming class, part of a good group of cornerbacks set to hit the open market. Edmunds is a reliable starter, yet had a poor year in coverage after signing a one-year deal last offseason. This is a good year for the Steelers not to have a lot of available cap space. Not many players are worth retaining,” Jeff Kerr writes.

Some upcoming Steelers’ free agents not mentioned by Kerr were defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, who played over 60% of Pittsburgh’s snaps as an interior defensive lineman, and also safety Damontae Kazee, who had two interceptions after missing time early in the season due to injury. Those two, in addition to linebacker Robert Spillane and obviously Sutton and Edmunds are guys the Steelers are probably going to look to retain.

While not having a lot of cap space right now, the Steelers can free up space pretty easily by moving on from cornerback William Jackson III and possibly also cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Another easy way to save cap space would be to cut backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but the Steelers might prefer to have a veteran backup behind Kenny Pickett.

When you look at the group of free agents some of the teams at the top of Kerr’s list have hitting the open market, like the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, it does make Pittsburgh’s list of upcoming free agents seem to be underwhelming. But make no mistake about it, the Steelers are going to be worse off if they lose Sutton or Edmunds or Ogunjobi.

While the team could probably look to replace Edmunds (or Kazee) early in the draft to play alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick, losing Sutton or Ogunjobi would be a bit more of a blow as both cornerback and defensive line are still needs whether or not they’re in the fold. Even so, I would expect the team to make a push to bring both Edmunds and Kazee back.

To make a long story short, while the Steelers free agent crop might not be the most impressive on paper, it’s a group that’s important to retain at the top. We’ll find out in the next few weeks whether or not the team will be able to do so.

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