Entering a rather busy offseason, there will be plenty of changes for the Pittsburgh Steelers, at least on the roster overall, thanks to more than 20 players set to hit unrestricted or restricted free agency.
Of those 20+ players, names like Cameron Sutton, Larry Ogunjobi and Terrell Edmunds carry greater importance due to their role on the team and their talent levels overall. Entering free agency, the trio of Sutton, Ogunjobi and Edmunds cracked The Athletic’s Top 150 free agents list Monday morning, with all three landing inside the top 75 overall.
Sutton landed at No. 29 overall, while Ogunjobi checked in at No. 65 overall, and Edmunds came in at No. 71.
Out of the trio, Sutton is the most important for the Steelers moving forward, considering his position at cornerback, his development in recent seasons and his overall versatility being able to play inside or outside. It’s no surprise to see him ranked inside the top 30 in The Athletic’s rankings.
“Once a jack of all trades, Sutton became more of a traditional cornerback this season and produced,” The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly writes. “He ranked sixth in passes defensed with 15 and had three interceptions (plus a few drops), allowing a passer rating of 65.3 when his coverage was targeted, which is spectacular. The Steelers would love to keep Sutton, and he recently told the team’s web site he would like to stay. But he will garner significant interest.”
Sutton will garner significant interest coming off of a career season at just 27 years old. However, he’s made it pretty clear he wants to remain in Pittsburgh time and time again and doesn’t really seem interested in even hitting the open market overall.
That bodes well for the Steelers. That said, he won’t come cheap, nor should he, considering the season he had in 2022, emerging as a true shutdown cornerback for the Steelers. For a team that has struggled to draft and develop cornerbacks over the years, Sutton is one that simply can’t get away.
Based on the situation the Steelers find themselves in along the defensive line, in terms of depth and experience, Larry Ogunjobi should be right there with Sutton when it comes to priority for the franchise in the offseason.
Coming in at No. 65 overall, Ogunjobi slots in a bit lower than expected in the free agency rankings.
“Ogunjobi was a monster on the field in 2022, but injuries kept him out of practice almost all season. His value will be determined by his health,” Kaboly writes regarding Ogunjobi’s ranking. “The Bears gave him a three-year, $40 million deal last spring before he failed his physical. The Steelers, sight unseen, offered him $8 million. He dealt with foot, knee and back injuries a year ago, yet still played 63 percent of the snaps and 16 of 17 games.”
Though he struggled to stay healthy throughout the season, Ogunjobi missed just one game and still recorded 30 pressures in 2022, with 19 of those pressures coming in the second half of the season when the Steelers’ defense was at full strength. He’s going to be just 29 years old and still has some great football ahead of him.
While he was banged up throughout the year and missed a bunch of practices, his level of play never dipped on the field in games. The Steelers know him well at this point, and there should be comfort there for Ogunjobi to return at least for one more year.
Then, there’s the curious case of safety Terrell Edmunds, who slots in at No. 71 overall in the free agency rankings after a very solid 2022 season for the Steelers.
“Edmunds sat on the market until late April last year and settled for a one-year, $2.5 million deal to stay with the Steelers, then had his best season,” Kaboly writes regarding Edmunds’ ranking. “Although the stats don’t jump off the sheet, he was a good pairing with Minkah Fitzpatrick, allowing the All-Pro to move around. Edmunds is more of a box safety but was asked to cover tight ends weekly.”
Edmunds continues to get better and better in the NFL. While he hasn’t quite lived up to the first-round billing as a former top 32 pick, he’s been nothing short of steady and reliable, filling a key role in Pittsburgh the last five years, pairing rather nicely alongside star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the Steel City.
That comfort between the two should play a significant factor in the Steelers attempting to keep Edmunds on a multi-year deal, but there are decisions to be made up and down the roster, tough ones in fact, that could result in the loss of some sound players overall, much like Edmunds.