It’s that time of year again. Free agency is creeping up in just a couple of weeks, so before we get there, we’ll get going over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, position by position, making an assessment of what kind of shape they’re in, trying to figure out how they might, or should, attack the roster on that basis.
The Steelers have several key players due to become free agents shortly, and a number of large contracts could be salary cap casualties, so a lot will be changing in the near future, but this is where things stand, at each position, as of this writing.
Position: Defensive End
Total Positional Figure: 4
Montravius Adams: Picked up off the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad in the middle of the 2021 season, Adams impressed enough in his short time to earn a modest two-year contract the following season. He ended up moving into the starting lineup a short while into the season, registering 26 tackles and a batted pass in 281 snaps.
Renell Wren: A former fourth-round draft pick who’s had injury issues during his career, Wren spent the 2022 season on the Steelers’ practice squad. He was called up for one game, playing one snap, and was re-signed on a Reserve/Future deal.
Jonathan Marshall: A 2021 sixth-round pick of the New York Jets out of Arkansas, Marshall logged 76 snaps as a rookie but did not make the 53-man roster the following season. He spent some time on their practice squad but found his way to Pittsburgh’s in mid-December. He too was retained on a Reserve/Future contract.
Pending Free Agents:
Tyson Alualu: After revitalizing his career as a nose tackle during the 2020 season, Alualu suffered a broken ankle early the next year and hasn’t been the same since then. He opened the 2022 season as the starting nose tackle but was benched a short time in, demoted to rotational work. He found himself far more often on his back. Now 35 years old after 13 seasons in the NFL, many anticipate that he will retire, but that remains to be seen.
With Alualu very likely to be retired and Adams not a shoo-in as the answer in the starting lineup, it’s reasonable that we can anticipate some meaningful address to the defensive tackle position this offseason.
This would certainly be one area in which the Steelers may seek an answer in veteran free agency next week, as 3-4 nose tackles are going to be on the cheaper side due to their relative scarcity. In other words, don’t expect them to bring back Javon Hargrave, who could be one of the most coveted free agents on the market.
But even if they do sign a veteran, the draft could offer some rather intriguing abilities. The body types in college continue to evolve into hybrid types, with even the big men being athletic enough to push outside and line up at defensive end, making it easier to justify a higher draft pick on the position.