After missing out on one Pittsburgh native in Chase Winovich in free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers could turn their attention to another Pittsburgh native and NFL veteran to shore up depth defensively.
Defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, 29, who released by the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, could be a potential bargain free agent move for the Steelers.
Jefferson, born and raised in Pittsburgh, attended Woodland Hills High School before heading off to College Park to be a member of the Maryland Terrapins’ football program. While at Maryland, Jefferson played in 37 games and worked his way into a draftable player, getting selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, No. 147 overall.
Jefferson spent a four-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks, and then one season each with the Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Raiders before returning to the Seahawks for the 2022 season.
In seven NFL seasons, Jefferson has recorded 158 tackles, 20.5 career sacks, 24 tackles for loss, and 64 QB hits in 3,080 career snaps. Jefferson has played another 376 special teams snaps as well.
With Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormley currently free agents, and Tyson Alualu expected to retire, the Steelers don’t have much depth along the defensive line behind Cameron Heyward, DeMarvin Leal, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Jonathan Marshall, and Renell Wren on the 90-man offseason roster.
Jefferson could be a potential depth signing at a relatively affordable rate.
The 29-year-old defensive lineman was scheduled to earn $4.485 million in 2023, but after being released by the Seahawks, that number should be much less on the open market. That plays right into the Steelers’ hands. As of Tuesday, the Steelers have just $7,054,318 in salary cap space.
That bodes well for a potential signing of Jefferson. Aside from his Pittsburgh roots, Jefferson was a pre-draft visitor in 2016. He also has a relationship with new Steelers ILB coach Aaron Curry as Curry was a Seahawks defensive coach while Jefferson was in Seattle in 2019 and 2022.
Jefferson is also a player that Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin has praised in the past. Ahead of the Seahawks’ visit to then-Heinz Field in 2019, Tomlin had this to say about Jefferson:
“The development of Quinton Jefferson I think is worth mentioning. Former Woodland Hills product has really come into his own, played really good last year, particularly in the passing game, and with his rush skills and I think that was exemplified in how he played last week I think he had two sacks last week against Cincinnati,” Tomlin said of Jefferson in 2019. “That’s somebody on the interior in those passing situations that you better be ready to deal with, just like you better be ready to deal with [Jadeveon] Clowney on the perimeter.”
With new assistant GM Andy Weidl in town, the Steelers are sure to address depth in the trenches on both sides of the football. Jefferson could be that bargain free agent add that could play a significant role from a depth perceptive for his hometown team.