We are a little over a month away from the start of NFL free agency. That means it is time to ramp up our series of posts called Steelers off-season targets. This team has several needs to fill as they head into free agency, and the draft. Perhaps chief among them will be the inside linebacker position. It is pretty much a forgone conclusion that Devon Bush has played his last game in Pittsburgh. Robert Spillane is a free agent, leaving the team with only one experienced linebacker in Myles Jack. There is even a world where Jack is released saving the team nearly eight million dollars in cap space. Indeed this position will see a few new faces come the start of next season.
Germaine Pratt should be high on the Steelers wish list come March 15th. Top 5 under the radar Steelers free agent targets The former Bengals linebacker had a career season in 2022. He was the second leading tackler in Cincinnati with 99 combined tackles. Where Pratt really shined however was in pass coverage. He had 2 interceptions, and 10 passes defended as a linebacker last season. This led to a 90.1 grade as a pass defender according to PFF. https://www.pff.com/nfl/players/germaine-pratt/29407
Germaine Pratt would step in and immediately become the Steelers best linebacker even if they chose to keep Myles Jack. Adding to his impressive stats is the fact that he has only missed one game in the past three seasons. There is also the added bonus of weakening a division opponent by taking Pratt away from Cincinnati.
Speaking of the Bengals, they have quite the off-season ahead of them. This franchise is facing the daunting task of signing their franchise quarterback Joe Burrow to a monster extension. They also have 3/4 of their starting secondary also set to hit free agency. The Bengals will be too preoccupied with bigger issues to commit big money to Pratt.
Of course when we talk Steelers free agency, there is one thing above all other….money. How much will Germaine Pratt command on the open market? Well, Spotrac has Pratt’s market value at a little over $10 million per season. This number sounds about right considering how similar he is to Steelers linebacker Myles Jack in terms of age, and position. Jack signed at an average yearly value of $8 million per season in 2022. Factor in the salary cap going up, and Pratt being superior as a pass defender, and $10-$11 million per season is a good expectation.
That number may seem very steep for a Steelers team that will be short on cap space. Omar Khan can easily lower the first year cap hit with a signing bonus making it much more feasible for the team. This is a signing we would very much be in favor of. We would go as far as to say Pratt should be a replacement for Myles Jack. The cap hit for signing both Pratt, and Robert Spillane could nearly be covered by the cap savings from cutting Jack. That is a win-win in our book, and a move that would greatly improve this team’s defense.