Bargain Contracts Steelers Must Consider in 2023 NFL Free Agency

Joe TanseyMarch 22, 2023

Bargain Contracts Steelers Must Consider in 2023 NFL Free Agency

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 18: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during an NFL football game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Carolina Panthers on December 18, 2022 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have done most of their major free-agent business.

    Pittsburgh brought in Patrick Peterson to replace the departed Cameron Sutton, and it upgraded the interior of its offensive line with Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig.

    The focus over the next few weeks should be to find veteran players on bargain deals who can come in and outperform those contracts in 2023.

    Most of the veteran free agents still on the market have some type of concerns attached to them, whether it be a drop-off in production or a troubling injury history.

    There are spots, like the interior on both sides of the ball, where the Steelers could improve with a shrewd one-year deal for a veteran.

    Mike Tomlin's side should also be on the lookout for additions at wide receiver to provide depth behind Diontae Johnson and George Pickens.

    Pittsburgh does not need a high-volume wideout, but if it brings in a solid No. 3 option, it could help with the pass-game production in 2023.

Jadeveon Clowney

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    LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Cleveland Browns linebacker Deion Jones (54) and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (90) peek into the backfield during the Cleveland Browns game versus the Washington Commanders on January 01, 2023, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. (Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Jadeveon Clowney is coming off his lowest sack total in a season in which he played nine or more games.

    He only had two sacks opposite Myles Garrett with the Cleveland Browns in 2022. That was a steep drop off from the nine sacks he recorded in his first season in Cleveland.

    The lack of sack production could force Clowney to take a one-year prove-it deal somewhere in the NFL.

    Pittsburgh already has T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward in its pass-rush, but adding some inexpensive veteran depth in the form of Clowney would not hurt.

    The Steelers have to contain so many mobile quarterbacks in the AFC. A potential Clowney addition would allow the team to have no drop-off in the pass rush, especially on plays in which Watt is off the field.

    Pittsburgh should only go after Clowney on a one-year deal because of last season's drop-off and his injury history. He only played eight games in 2020 with the Tennessee Titans.

    A one-year deal in Pittsburgh would fit the recent trajectory of Clowney's career. He played for three teams in the last four seasons.

Taylor Lewan

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    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: Taylor Lewan #77 of the Tennessee Titans points on the filed prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on September 19, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
    Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

    At his best, Taylor Lewan would be an upgrade at left tackle for the Steelers.

    The concern with signing the former Tennessee offensive lineman is that he is coming off his second ACL tear.

    Lewan's injury history should not make him a candidate to sign an exorbitant deal this offseason. He may need a year to prove that he is back to 100 percent before inking another major contract.

    Pittsburgh could use some experienced help on the left side to protect Kenny Pickett in his second season. Pickett was sacked on 27 occasions in 13 games in 2022.

    The Steelers could wait until the NFL draft to land extra protection for Pickett since they have the No. 17 overall pick in the first round and two second-round picks. One of those selections could be used on a tackle of the future.

    If the Steelers believe Lewan can return to his three-time Pro Bowl form, they should take a shot on him to shore up the offensive interior.

Olamide Zaccheaus

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Olamide Zaccheaus #17 of the Atlanta Falcons gets set against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh should be in the market for wide-receiver depth behind Johnson and Pickens.

    Olamide Zaccheaus is coming off his best NFL season. He caught 40 balls for 533 receiving yards with the Atlanta Falcons.

    Zaccheaus would be a nice No. 3 option to have in addition to the top two pass-catchers on the roster.

    Calvin Austin III could blossom into a nice player, but his NFL future is unknown because he was placed on injured reserve at the start of his rookie campaign.

    Zaccheaus was a secondary target for most of his time in Atlanta. He shifted into a more prominent role in 2023 because of injuries and performed well with the increase in playing time.

    You can never have enough wide-receiver depth in the AFC, and a cheap deal for Zaccheaus would give the Steelers another pass-catching option out of the slot who could take some pressure off their top two wideouts.