The Pittsburgh Steelers have been pretty active in free agency, plugging a number of holes on a roster that fell just short of a playoff berth in the first post-Ben Roethlisberger season.
The Steelers have already signed some solid veterans like guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, linebackers Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts, cornerback Patrick Peterson and re-signed the likes of safety Damontae Kazee and defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi.
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky wants the Steelers to do more, and that means signing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up Monday morning, Orlovsky stated that the Steelers should add firepower offensively to try and compete with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC, and that means Beckham Jr.
“I look at the AFC…I say you gotta add firepower, or people to slow down firepower because of the Chiefs. This automatically does that for Pittsburgh,” Orlovsky said of his belief the Steelers should sign Beckham Jr. “One, organizational structure and the head coach knows what he’s doing. There’s a standard, a culture, an everyday expectation he’s gonna walk right into. Two, cheap quarterback with Kenny Pickett right now, you’re trying to build around that because he is cheap and you’re trying to get him to play as well as possible.
“And just imagine this offense if you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Najee Harris at tailback, who is still an awesome player. Then you got George Pickens who’s a burgeoning star at that position. Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth at tight end. And you add Odell? Now we’re talking about an offense that’s got weapons and actual firepower to go chase down a Cincinnati Bengals, could go chase down a Kansas City Chiefs football team. So there’s a lot of teams that we could say Odell’s gonna be a good addition.
“But if you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m sitting there going, ‘Man, if we add this guy and he’s capable of playing the way he did on that Super Bowl run, our offense becomes very much so challenging to the Cincinnati Bengals when it comes to fire power.'”
Beckham Jr. remains the big fish in the sea at the wide receiver position after the Dallas Cowboys traded for former Houston wide receiver Brandin Cooks on Sunday, taking away a potential landing spot for the star receiver in free agency.
While he remains a big name overall, Beckham Jr. hasn’t been on an NFL field since he tore his ACL in the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI in on February 13, 2022. The ACL injury was his second in three seasons on the same knee. Now that he’s 30 years old and missed an entire season, the concern with Beckham Jr.’s health and future outlook is real and warranted.
That said, he remains an incredibly talented receiver who could fit well on a roster with other high-end talent around him. While Orlovsky makes the case for the Steelers to sign him, that’s unlikely to happen. Beckham Jr. reportedly was seeking $20 million a year on the open market. Over the weekend he refuted that report, stating he wasn’t asking for $20 million per year but does want more than the $4 million that’s been offered to him by a couple of teams.
Despite his injury history and the fact he hasn’t been on an NFL field in over a year, that’s a reasonable ask for a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro with 531 career receptions for 7,367 yards and 89 touchdowns.
On paper, Beckham Jr. would be an incredible add for the Steelers. He has slot experience with 789 career snaps coming in the slot, so he could handle that role in Pittsburgh, at least in the passing game. The Steelers do want that smaller, faster, shiftier slot in Matt Canada’s scheme though to handle the jet sweeps and bubble screens, and that’s not exactly Beckham Jr.
While the Steelers have a real need for a third receiver overall behind Johnson and Pickens, Beckham Jr. is unlikely to be that guy due to his asking price, and the type of work he’s going to desire on the field. He won’t be a No.1 or even a No. 2 in Pittsburgh, and that might not sit right with OBJ at this point in his career.
It’s certainly a fun hypothetical fit to talk about, because it would take the passing game to the next level, but based on the moves the Steelers have made in free agency, it’s very clear they are aiming to get back to the smash mouth running style that made them successful for many years, not the high-profiled passing attack that lit up scoreboards but didn’t lead to playoff success.