The Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly made it a high priority to re-sign veteran defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi this offseason and even after his 2022 season wasn’t an overly productive one on the stat sheet. While Ogunjobi will turn 29 in June, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated Sunday even at the annual NFL owners meetings in Arizona that he doesn’t believe the team saw entirely what Ogunjobi is capable of on the defensive line in 2022, his first season in Pittsburgh
“I think that’s the perspective that I have,” Tomlin said of Ogunjobi on Sunday, according to Dale Lolley of Steelers.com. “I think that’s the perspective that he [Ogunjobi] has. And I think that makes both of us excited about his return and what that might mean.”
Ogunjobi, who recently re-signed back with the Steelers on a three-year contract that totals out at $28.7 million, did deal with a toe injury during the latter part of the 2022 season and that may have played a part in his overall lack of production versus what was probably expected after he signed a one-year, $8 million contract last offseason.
In total, Ogunjobi played 636 defensive snaps in 2022 and 55 more on special teams. He ended the season with 48 total tackles with seven resulting in lost yardage. He was also credited with 1.5 sacks in 2022 and 11 quarterback hits. He missed one game in the middle of the season due to a knee injury.
Tomlin made sure on Sunday to explain why he believes Ogunjobi’s play might be better overall in 2023.
“I just think that there’s benefit in him being here and knowing what to expect and having been a lap around the track and to go through an offseason where he’s not rehabilitating coming off of a surgery as exciting prospects, as well,” Tomlin said, according to Lolley.
When Ogunjobi was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021, he registered 49 total tackles during the regular season to go along with seven sacks and 16 total quarterback hits. He did that in 16 games as he sat out the 2022 regular season finale. In the playoffs two seasons ago, Ogunjobi suffered his foot injury that ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of the postseason. That injury not only required offseason surgery, it also played a part in Ogunjobi failing his physical with the Chicago Bears after initially agreeing to sign a very lucrative three-year contract with them last March.
If Ogunjobi can return to his 2021 form in 2023, something that Tomlin seems to think he’s very capable of doing, it obviously would be great for the Steelers’ defense. The deal that Ogunjobi signed recently is another sign that the Steelers believe that 2021 Ogunjobi will return in 2023.
While Ogunjobi is indeed back in the fold for the 2023 season, there’s still a good chance that the Steelers will address the defensive line position early in the 2023 NFL Draft and likely with one of their first three selections.