Breaking down Omar Khan’s first free agency with Steelers, what the team still needs this offseason


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Acrisure Stadium in the North Shore.

By Matthew Scabilloni, Staff Writer

Omar Khan’s first official full season as the Steelers’ general manager started last week with free agency. Khan still has plenty of room for growth as the offseason progresses, but is off to a solid start with some of his early signings. 

Cornerback Patrick Peterson

The Steelers signed former Viking Patrick Peterson to a two-year contract worth $14 million. Peterson fits in schematically with the Steelers, pairing well with ball-hawking safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. He will also be a great mentor to the young defensive backs on the Steelers.

Formerly one of the best cornerbacks in the league, the three time all-pro and future hall of famer is at the tail end of his career. History shows that defensive backs become significantly less effective once they lose a step due to age.

Safety Damontae Kazee 

The Steelers safety is returning next season on a two-year contract worth $6 million.

Kazee was a great signing last season for Pittsburgh, taking the backup role for the Steelers in 2022 and thriving. 

The defensive back only played in nine games last season for the Steelers thanks to a broken forearm. Because of this small sample size Kazee played, we don’t know what his full potential is over a full season.

Guard Isaac Seumalo 

The former Eagle is signed on a three-year contract worth $24 million. Seumalo gained plenty of experience on the best offensive line in the NFL last year in Philadelphia. He’s very talented, and the Steelers got him relatively cheap for a talented offensive lineman at $8 million per year. 

 When healthy, Seumalo is an asset to the Steelers offensive line — but remaining healthy is a big if. In the 2020 and 2021 season, Seumalo had injuries that would sideline him for the majority of the season, but in 2022 he was finally healthy for a full year. Was 2022 just a lucky season health wise for Seumalo, or was it proof that he is fully healthy now and can be a contributor all season long? 

Guard Nate Herbig

The former Jet is signed on a two-year contract worth $8 million.

 Herbig is a great run blocker and will be an asset to the Steelers jumbo packages. He’s experienced and can provide the Steelers with depth at both guard positions. 

The Steelers already have Kevin Dotson as a backup guard. It doesn’t feel like it’s worth the money to spend on another backup guard, unless the Steelers plan on cutting Dotson.

Defensive Lineman Larry Ogunjobi

Ogunjobi is great at stopping the run, and he had a solid 2022 season. He works perfectly on the defensive line alongside Cam Heyward. Ogunjobi’s one major drawback is his high price tag at $28 million. It seems as though the Steelers had other cheaper and equally viable options at the position either in free agency or in the draft. But the Steelers went with the safer option of the two, keeping the guy that works.

Linebacker Cole Holcomb

The Steelers signed the former Commander to a three-year contract worth $18 million. Holcomb is a great tackler and is a big upgrade from Devin Bush, whom he’s replacing. He wore the green dot for the Commanders, meaning he got the defensive play calls from the defensive coordinator and is a proven leader and great on-field presence. 

He got injured last season and only played seven games, leaving fans to wonder about his long-term health. There are better interior linebacker options in free agency and it feels as if the Steelers settled for Holcomb.

Linebacker Elandon Roberts

Roberts is a perfect replacement for former linebacker Robert Spillane. He will play as a special teams player and log a decent amount of defensive snaps, especially in running situations where he thrives. 

His one major downfall is in coverage. The Steelers wanted Spillane to drop back and cover tight ends, but fell short of expectations — Roberts is seemingly not an adequate replacement in that area. 

With the Steelers adding all of these new contributors, they have to let some of last year’s main contributors go away. Khan seemed to make some good and bad decisions for the Steelers, but only time will tell how much the Steelers will miss these contributors.

Cornerback Cameron Sutton

The former Steeler signed with the Lions on a three-year contract worth $33 million, which many could argue is an overpay for the Lions. Still, Steelers fans are certainly sad to see him go.

Sutton is the Steelers’ most glaring free agency loss this season. Letting Sutton go away to the Lions feels like Mike Hilton going to the Bengals, but worse. The Lions got a steal with Sutton and he will be a very good cornerback for them for years to come.

Linebacker Myles Jack

Jack didn’t create turnovers like the Steelers wanted, thus leading to his release. Jack excelled at the basic part of his job, but considering his $8 million price tag, the Steelers expected more from him. 

Jack led the Steelers in tackles last season, which leaves a sizable gap in production. Holcomb helps to fill the hole, but the team should still look for additional talent during the offseason.

Linebacker Robert Spillane 

The former Steeler signed with the Raiders on a two-year contract worth $7 million. Spillane didn’t thrive in covering tight ends, which is something the Steelers really wanted from him.

Steelers fans disliked Spillane too much — despite his downfalls in coverage, he still excelled at tackling and disrupting the backfield, and is a heavy hitter. 

Linebacker Devin Bush 

The former Steeler signed with the Seahawks on a one-year deal, but the deal isn’t completely finalized yet. 

Bush is way too tentative and not explosive enough for a Steelers linebacker. The team wants someone who fears nothing, inserting himself into every play in some regard. 

Bush played great his first couple years with the Steelers, but after he tore his ACL he never played the same. If he ever ends up returning to his pre-injury self, the Steelers will highly regret letting him go. 

We’re only at the beginning of free agency and the fun of free agency has only begun. What are some of the things Khan and company could do to vastly improve the Steelers? 

The Steelers could still bring back some established players like edge rusher Bud Dupree. They should prioritize re-signing safety Terrell Edmunds, who showed fans that he is more than capable of being a perfect sidekick to Fitzpatrick. But most importantly, they must find better protection for quarterback Kenny Pickett.