Pittsburgh Steelers GM Omar Khan stated recently that despite a busy offseason that featured a number of free agent additions, the Steelers are “still open for business” when it comes to free agency and trades.
Hearing that, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger believes the Steelers should make one last move in the offseason to shore up an area of need.
That position? Inside linebacker.
According to Spielberger, the Steelers should pursue veteran inside linebacker Rashaan Evans in free agency, especially after the deadline for signings to count against the compensatory picks formula passed last week.
“The Steelers have rotated through a handful of former highly drafted off-ball linebackers over the past few seasons and follow a similar idea here with the 2018 first-rounder. Evans is coming off career highs with 1,104 snaps, 46 defensive stops and 110 tackles while missing only 7.3% of opportunities in 2022,” Spielberger writes regarding Evans as a potential fit for the Steelers. “Free agency addition Cole Holcomb is primarily a Mike linebacker but has experience at the Will spot, which is also the situation with Evans, who was taken in the first round in 2018 after a stellar Alabama career, generally lining up on the weak side.”
In Pittsburgh, Holcomb will play the MACK position in the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive scheme, while Evans would likely profile as a BUCK, were the Steelers to take a look at him. Pittsburgh already addressed that portion of the defense with the signing of Elandon Roberts, while also expecting 2022 seventh-round draft pick Mark Robinson to take a significant step forward at the position after he worked his way into the lineup late last season.
Evans is a former first-rounder whom the Steelers were high on going into the 2018 draft. He started 17 games for the Falcons last year, recording 159 tackles and two sacks.
In his five NFL seasons, Evans started out fast with the Tennessee Titans, but has seen a significant drop-off in his career. The Titans eventually declined his fifth-year option, leading to him sign with the Atlanta Falcons last offseason.
Historically, the Steelers like to do business with players they have done work on in the past. Evans would certainly fall under that category as the Steelers sent a large group, including Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, Jerry Olsavsky and Karl Dunbar to Alabama’s Pro Day in 2018, where Evans was present, as was safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, whom the Steelers ultimately traded for.
They also met with Evans at the Combine, though he was not a pre-draft visitor to the team’s South Side practice facility.
While Pittsburgh has done a good job of completely reshaping the inside linebacker room with the additions of Holcomb, Roberts and special teams ace Tanner Muse, Pittsburgh could realistically use another body there to challenge a backup like Tae Crowder. Maybe that guy is Evans, assuming he is interested in taking a job where his role would be significantly reduced from what he’s used to.