Veteran Free-Agent Contracts Steelers Must Consider Before Training Camp

Jake RillJune 27, 2022

Veteran Free-Agent Contracts Steelers Must Consider Before Training Camp

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    AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

    Omar Khan has only been the general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a little more than a month, but it hasn't taken long for him to start making moves.

    Earlier this month, the Steelers made Minkah Fitzpatrick the highest paid safety in NFL history, signing him to a four-year, $73.6 million extension. Then, Khan added another player for the defense, signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal.

    Are the Steelers done or could there be more transactions on the horizon? They don't open training camp until July 27, so there's still time for them to sign another veteran free agent or two to further strengthen their roster heading into the 2022 season.

    With that in mind, here's a look at several players Pittsburgh should consider signing this summer.

Bryan Bulaga, OT

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    AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

    As things stand, the Steelers are heading into the 2022 season with Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor as their starting offensive tackles. But neither played too well in 2021, and there were plenty of times that Pittsburgh's O-line underperformed.

    It could be beneficial for the Steelers to bring in a veteran offensive tackle who could take over a starting spot if Moore or Okorafor struggle, and it'd be best if they could do so at a low cost. That's why Bryan Bulaga could be the right fit.

    The 11-year NFL veteran played only one game for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021, as he suffered a back injury in the season opener that later required core muscle surgery and prevented him from getting back on the field. He was then released earlier this year after two seasons with the Chargers.

    At one point, though, the 33-year-old was among the league's best, most consistent right tackles, helping the Green Bay Packers have a ton of success from 2010-19. If he can stay healthy in 2022, there's a chance he could get back to that level (or at least close to it).

    It should be worth it for the Steelers to sign Bulaga, who, at worst, can be an experienced depth player for their offensive line.

Justin Jackson, RB

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    Steve Marcus/Getty Images

    Najee Harris had an impressive rookie season in 2021, and he'll again be the Steelers' clear-cut top running back in 2022.

    If the 24-year-old is going to have a long and successful career, though, it could be valuable for Pittsburgh to have an RB or two who can help lessen his workload at times.

    Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. are back with the Steelers this year, but neither is likely to put up huge numbers in their limited action. So it could be valuable for Pittsburgh to bring in a proven No. 2 back who can have success when called upon to spell Harris.

    Justin Jackson could be an ideal running back to fill that role. He was a valuable backup over his four seasons with the Chargers and had a solid showing last season, recording 68 carries for 364 yards and two touchdowns over 14 games.

    The 26-year-old is capable of breaking off some big runs, even if he's not touching the ball a ton in a given game. That's why he'd be a great secondary option out of the Steelers' backfield who could contribute in the passing game at times, too.

Xavier Rhodes, CB

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    AP Photo/Matt Patterson

    Pittsburgh's secondary has already gotten much better this offseason after the team signed Levi Wallace to a two-year, $8 million deal.

    He will be one of the Steelers' starting cornerbacks, and they also have Ahkello Witherspoon, Justin Layne and Cameron Sutton back in the fold.

    If cornerback is going to be among the team's top positions of strength, though, then it may want to add one more via free agency. And there are still some solid performers on the market.

    Among that group is Xavier Rhodes, who played for the Indianapolis Colts the past two seasons after spending the first seven years of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings.

    The 32-year-old has played at least 13 games in every one of his seasons, and while he doesn't force a ton of turnovers, he can provide solid coverage, even at this stage in his career.

    Rhodes would be a reliable addition to Pittsburgh's secondary who should help the unit fare even better in 2022.

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