In less than a week, free agency officially opens in the NFL with the start of the new league year on March 15, which will lead to a bunch of moving and shaking across the NFL landscape.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, not much will change overall when it comes to their own free agents, at least according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.
Answering a fan question in his chat Thursday morning, Dulac stated that the Steelers will retain the likes of defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, cornerback Cameron Sutton, cornerback James Pierre, linebacker Robert Spillane and tight end Zach Gentry in free agency, adding that safety Terrell Edmunds might be retained as well.
Later on in the chat, Dulac responded to a fan’s question stating that most of the Steelers’ attention will be on signing their own free agents rather than being aggressive on the open market.
With Pierre, that’s not a surprise whatsoever as he is a restricted free agent, limiting his movement. He’ll be a Steeler in 2023 without a doubt. It’s not much of a surprise with Sutton either as the Steelers have already expressed their interest in retaining a key defensive piece, and he himself hasn’t shown much interest in leaving for a different situation.
Just last week, GM Omar Khan stated exactly how the Steelers feel about Sutton, while revealing that contract talks are underway with the veteran cornerback.
“We think very highly of Cam, and conversations have commenced. We’ll see where it goes,” Khan said to reporters at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “Like all our other free agents, everything’s on the table.”
Chances are the Steelers get something done with Sutton before he ventures into the open market. As for Spillane and Gentry, neither are much of a surprise, at least when it comes to Dulac’s belief that both will be retained. Spillane stepped into a starting role down the stretch for the Steelers and played rather well. They can’t afford to let him walk, at least based on the depth chart at the position currently.
As for Gentry, he was a pseudo-starter for the Steelers, playing a bunch of snaps when the Steelers went 12 personnel. He has a great relationship with Pat Freiermuth and put together a pretty decent fourth season overall, developing rather nicely from a blocking standpoint for the Steelers.
The real surprise from Dulac in his chat is the mention of Ogunjobi with the rest of the guys he expects to be retained. While I have been on record a bunch this offseason stating that Ogunjobi should be a priority for the Steelers, much like Sutton is, chances were slim that the Steelers would be able to get Ogunjobi back on a bit of a discount.
If Dulac is to be believed at face value, the Steelers will be able to keep the productive, disruptive defensive tackle, shoring up an area of concern in the off-season. If Pittsburgh is able to retain Ogunjobi, that opens up the possibilities in the draft even further, allowing the Steelers to be aggressive in some areas compared to others.
Chances are though, of all of the players Dulac expects to be retained, one or two won’t be back in the black and gold in 2023. That’s just the nature of the business. But if Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl are able to pull that off? Talk about getting off to a strong start in the offseason.