The NFL free agency period begins on March 14th, and the Steelers should be fairly active this time around. Pittsburgh currently sits at 11th in the league in cap space with nearly $30 million. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/cap/2022/ We have come up with ten reasonable free agents the Steelers should be interested in this year. Factoring in need, age, and money here are our top Steelers free agent targets:
1. JC Jackson CB, New England Patriots:
There is a high likelihood the Patriots end up using the franchise tag on JC Jackson. If they don’t, this should be one of the Steelers top priorities. A number one corner is right up there with the top needs for the club. Jackson certainly fits that bill having had nine and eight interceptions in the last two seasons. Still only 26, Jackson has not yet hit his prime and should be a lock down corner for years to come.
Adding a top tier corner is never cheap. Jackson will be looking for a deal in the $18 million per range, with a hefty amount of guaranteed money. If ever there were a season for the Steelers to splurge on a free agent, it would be now. Signing this type of corner would push the defense back to elite status. It’s not the most likely signing on our list, but the one that would have the most impact in 2022.
2. Laken Tomlinson G, San Francisco 49ers:
If it were up to us, the Steelers would use most of their available cap space on the offensive line. This group was arguably the worst offensive line in the league in 2021. Laken Tomlinson is a high end run blocker who would do wonders for this run game. Look for him to command a contract with an AAV of around $9-$10 million. This would be a worthwhile investment for a franchise who has ignored the line for so long.
3. Ryan Jensen C, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Ryan Jensen is a physical, nasty center who would become an instant hit with Steelers fans. Not too mention giving this team some of the best center play it has seen in years. He is over 30, and we are not convinced the Steelers are ready to move on from Kendrick Green just yet. Jensen is the top center in free agency, and one the team shoul not ignore.
4. Cordarrelle Patterson WR/KR, Atlanta Falcons:
Think Ray-Ray McLoud only actually much, much better with this player. Patterson played wide receiver and running back in Atlanta last season, to go along with being one of the league’s premiere return men. He older (31), but still has the juice to be an impact player. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada would love this player in his offensive system.
5. James Daniels G, Chicago Bears:
Still only 24, James Daniels has been in the league since 2018. After being moved around a bit in Chicago, he found a home at guard and flourished in 2021. Daniels has position flexibility, and tremendous upside. This could be a relatively cheap signing that could end up a home run as a Steelers free agent target.
6. Trent Brown OT, New England Patriots:
An absolutely massive man, Trent Brown stands 6’8”, and weighs in around 380 pounds. Brown struggled after signing a big deal with the Raiders, but regained his form after being reacquired by the Patriots. Brown would make an excellent right tackle option in Pittsburgh.
7. Ogbannia Okoronkwo EDGE, Los Angeles Rams:
Pittsburgh is going to need a cheap option as their third pass rusher in 2022. Someone who can spell TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith with some semblance of pass rush ability. Okoronwu has had some success at this role with the Rams. Not a big splash here, but one who could play a big role on defense in 2022.
8. Mitch Trubisky QB, Buffalo Bills:
The Pittsburgh Steelers need a starting quarterback for 2022. Where that will come from is anyone’s guess. There has been no shortage of rumors about who that player might be. If the team decides to go the free agent route, Mitch Trubisky would be our choice. We go into more detail here: Steelers 2022 quarterback: Why not Mitch Trubisky?
9. Rashaad Penny RB, Seattle Seahawks:
Rashaad Penny is the kind of big back the Steelers love, only with breakaway speed to go along with it. Penny never was able to become the number one back in Seattle, but would make a nice compliment to Najee Harris as a number two. We said similar things about a potential draft pick for the Steelers here: Steelers mock draft 2.0: The Pre-Combine edition
10. OJ Howard TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
OJ Howard was a physical freak coming out of Alabama. He combined the size and athleticism teams dream about at the tight end position. Unfortunately he never really hit in Tampa. There were flashes of greatnesses, but the consistency was never there. This would be a low risk, high reward type deal for Pittsburgh. The team could take a one year flyer on a physical specimen, and hope he finally figures it out.