NFL Free Agency: Ranking the 5 Players the Pittsburgh Steelers Must Target

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an up-and-down 2021 season. Mike Tomlin and company posted a 9-7-1 record in the regular season, narrowly sneaking into the playoffs. Even though Pittsburgh was one and done, it overcame a rough start to the year.

Kevin Colbert is in his last offseason as general manager and will be looking to set the Steelers up for success moving forward. The team has $29.5 million in cap space heading into NFL free agency, and several needs to address. Pittsburgh must improve its front seven, offensive line, secondary, and quarterback room.

The Steelers should strongly pursue these five players once free agency opens.

Jameis Winston and Morgan Moses are on the Steelers' radar in NFL free agency
New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston drops back for pass against the Seattle Seahawks | Steph Chambers/Getty Images; New York Jets offensive tackle Morgan Moses in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

5. OT Morgan Moses, New York Jets

Inconsistent offensive line play was an issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the 2021 season. The unit’s interior was shakier, but the team needs to add talent along the entire front. Morgan Moses could be a prime target in NFL free agency.

Moses spent the 2021 season with the New York Jets after playing in Washington for his first seven seasons. He’s been as reliable as they come over the years, starting every game since 2015. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 71.0 in 2021.

Moses’ veteran presence would be an excellent fit for a Steelers offense with several young players. He could also make an immediate impact on the team’s on-field production. The offensive line allowed 38 sacks, and the addition of the Jets bookend would instant bolster the unit. Moses gave up just four sacks in 1,022 snaps played.

4. LB Kwon Alexander, New Orleans Saints

The Steelers struggled mightily at stopping the run in 2021. They allowed 146 rushing yards per game, which was the worst mark in the NFL. Improving the front seven must be a high priority in the offseason.

Inside linebacker Joe Schobert is an unrestricted free agent, and he could ultimately be a cap casualty. Kwon Alexander, who is more athletic and slightly younger, could be a nice pickup in NFL free agency. The 27-year-old recorded 50 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks for the New Orleans Saints in 2021.

Pittsburgh is waiting for third-year linebacker Devin Bush to take the next step in his development. Inserting a former Pro Bowler in Alexander could be a great learning opportunity for Bush. If the Steelers want to improve in 2022, it must get back to featuring a physical defense.

3. CB Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams took a step back in 2021, but he made a name for himself in the past two seasons. From 2020 to 2021, the UAB product allowed a completion on 58.1% of passes and a 79.8 quarterback rating.

The Steelers could lose veteran corner Joe Haden in NFL free agency. Ahkello Witherspoon and Arthur Maulet are also unrestricted free agents. The defense was in the top 10 at defending the pass, giving up 215 yards per game and 24 passing touchdowns on the season. However, losing depth could cause problems.

Williams is coming off a Super Bowl victory with the Rams. If Pittsburgh lands him, he will come with valuable championship experience. Williams also fits the style of the Steelers defense. He’s not the biggest corner, but he’s physical and not afraid to mix it up with receivers.

2. OG Laken Tomlinson, San Francisco 49ers

Interior offensive line play is one of the biggest weaknesses of the Steelers’ roster right now. This unit struggled tremendously throughout the season. The front office put together a patchwork group of players, which looked terrible early on. The offensive played a little better as the season progressed, but its woes held the offense back.

Laken Tomlinson is one of the best offensive linemen available in NFL free agency regardless of position. The Pro Bowl guard has been a model of consistency, starting every game over the past four seasons. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 75.9 for the 2021 season.

The Steelers drafted running back Najee Harris for a reason. They want to get back to having a dominant ground game. While Harris had a strong rookie season (1,200 yards and seven touchdowns), it could’ve been even more productive with a solid offensive line. The San Francisco 49ers guard would fill a massive need for Pittsburgh.

1. QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

While all of the positions covered are vital for Pittsburgh’s success in 2022 and beyond, quarterback will get all of the attention. The front office is searching for Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement and keeping all of its options open. The Steelers have to choose wisely, though. The answer isn’t currently on the roster, so they should look elsewhere.

New Orleans Saints signal-caller Jameis Winston makes so much sense in Pittsburgh. He’s coming off an ACL injury, but his recovery appears to be going well. It’s unlikely that the Steelers make a splash and go after a big-name quarterback. Winston is probably more their speed.

The Heisman Trophy winner was enjoying a solid season before getting hurt. He threw for 1,170 yards, 14 touchdowns, and three interceptions in seven games. The Steelers have the pieces to be competitive now. Winston offers them a chance to win games. Worst-case scenario, he could be a bridge for the next franchise quarterback.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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