New Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Elandon Roberts wasn’t turning down the 412. Despite garnering interest from around the league, when Mike Tomlin asked Roberts if he wanted to become a Steeler, Roberts couldn’t say no.
In his first press conference as a Steeler today, Roberts described his free agency process.
“I had quite a few options,” Roberts said in a Zoom call shared on Steelers.com. “But I can tell you when Pittsburgh came in the fold, it jumped. It was kind of like, ‘get it done, let’s push to really get this done to Pittsburgh.’ That was my whole mindset once I found out that Pittsburgh was in the fold.”
Roberts didn’t outline what other opportunities he had. But he is coming off his best statistical season, recording 107 tackles in 2022 and getting more involved as a pass rusher with 4.5 sacks. A two-down run thumper, he’s part of the Steelers’ overhaul of their inside linebacker room, replacing Myles Jack, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane, with Cole Holcomb and Roberts.
Pittsburgh’s shown interest in Roberts since he came out of Houston in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he quipped he made that known to Tomlin this offseason.
“I met Mike Tomlin a long time ago at my Pro Day. And I’ve always said to myself, my wife, if I had the opportunity, it’ll be hard to pull me away from that one…I joked with Coach Mike and (GM and assistant GM Omar Khan and Andy Weidl) talking about it took seven years, but God’s timing is right on.”
Roberts will be in the mix to start next to Holcomb, whose three-year deal guarantees his place in the lineup. Roberts will battle second-year Mark Robinson, a similar player in size and playing style, for the starting gig this summer. Competition should bring out the best in both of them, and while Roberts’ contract gives him an early leg up, he’s ready for whatever comes his way.
“My mind is just really set on getting in, earning the trust of my coaches, my teammates, and the city of Pittsburgh,” Roberts said. “That’s my main focus right now.”
Pittsburgh could add another inside linebacker in the draft, already showing interest in Tulane’s Dorian Williams and Iowa’s Pro Day, with Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan personally attending the Hawkeyes’ workout. It’s nearly a completely different group compared to a year ago, one that’ll look to make more splash plays than the 2022 group, which very clearly could not.