Steelers Near Bottom Of NFL In ‘Approximate Value’ Added In Free Agency, Study Finds

For NFL teams that aren’t nearly as active in free agency as others, the opportunity to add outside, impactful free agents doesn’t really present itself often.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams that doesn’t really jump into the open market often, instead focusing on building through the draft and retaining their own players. Knowing that, it wasn’t surprising to see the Steelers near the bottom of the league in The Athletic’s recent study ranking “approximate value” added in free agency over the last three years.

Pittsburgh, which spent just $‎76,790,278 in free agency from 2020-22, ranked 29th in the NFL in “approximate value” added in that period, just ahead of the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Indianapolis Colts.

The study included only free-agent signings who received at least $1 million in cash and free agents who signed before the start of the regular season. The study also looked at Pro Football Reference’s statistic called Approximate Value (AV), which attempts to put a number on value of an NFL player, much like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) does in baseball. Pro Football Reference describes AV as “an attempt to put a single number on the seasonal value of a player at any position from any year (since 1960).”

In the three-year period of the study, the Steelers added 52 total approximate value — tied with the Tennessee Titans — on the open market with players like offensive linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole, quarterback Mitch Trubisky, cornerback Levi Wallace, and tight end Eric Ebron signed in free agency as open-market guys in the three-year window.

The free agent window ahead of the 2022 season was a bit of an uncharacteristic spending period for the Steelers. Former GM Kevin Colbert was in his last offseason with the Steelers and needed to plug some holes. It helped that the salary cap jumped significantly, giving teams some serious wiggle room coming out of the 2021 season, which saw the pandemic lower the salary cap significantly.

The Steelers did rather well getting the likes of Daniels, Cole, Wallace, and Trubisky on reasonably affordable contracts last offseason. That helped the Steelers jump from 29th in the NFL in approximate value added in free agency to 23rd overall in AV added per million (0.677 AV per million) in the study, just behind the Buffalo Bills and ahead of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Unsurprisingly, the teams that spent the most in free agency in the three-year window, like the Cincinnati Bengals ($211m), New York Jets ($244.5m), Jacksonville Jaguars ($230m), and Miami Dolphins ($213m) all added some of the highest approximate value in the league in that same period. The Bengals led the way with 152 total AV added, which included the likes of Trey Hendrickson and Mike Hilton on the open market.

However, even with some of the major spenders, the Green Bay Packers led the way in the study with the most AV added per millions, coming in at 1.799 AV per million added, spending just over $18 million in free agency in the three-year window. The San Francisco 49ers (1.301 AV per million), Dallas Cowboys (1.3 AV per million) and Atlanta Falcons (1.245 AV per million) were the only teams over 1.0 AV per million added in the three-year window in the study.

Historically, the Steelers aren’t overly active in free agency, that spending spree last offseason notwithstanding. Though the approximate value added and AV per million appear low, that’s par for the course in free agency for the franchise. The Steelers prefer to add their approximate value via the draft and through re-signing and retaining their own players.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!