Pittsburgh Steelers Bolster Their Offensive Line with 3 Signings

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


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It was no secret last season that the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line was one of the weaker position groups on the team.  The retirements of center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro left gaping holes in the line that the team had to fill in a jiffy.  

As a result, rookies Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. were asked to start in their first year in the league.  Along with the signing of veteran guard Trai Turner, this piecemeal style of assembling a new offensive line going into the 2021-2022 season proved to be disastrous.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the Steelers made this a focal point of theirs at the conclusion of last season.  And the team has taken no time in bolstering what many would consider the weakest link of their offense.

Yesterday, the Steelers re-signed offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year, $29.5 million deal.  There had been reports that other teams were expressing interest in signing him, but ultimately Chuks opted to stay in Pittsburgh.  In addition to bringing back Okorafor, the Steelers went out and added two new offensive lineman, Mason Cole and James Daniels, to help restore the offensive line as one of the strengths of this team.

Yesterday, the Steelers signed Mason Cole to a three-year deal.  Cole played for the Minnesota Vikings last season after having spent his first three seasons in the league with the Arizona Cardinals.  He was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft by the Cardinals out of Michigan.  He was a four-year letterman and three-time All-Big Ten honoree during his time as a Wolverine.  

During his three years with the Cardinals, Cole made 32 starts before moving onto the Vikings for the 2021-2022 season.  He has played center and both guard positions during his time in the NFL, making him a very versatile addition to the Steelers line.

Then today, the Steelers added James Daniels, signing him to a three-year, $26.5 million deal.  Formerly of the Chicago Bears, Daniels comes to the Steelers having started all 17 games for them last year.  He was the 39th overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Iowa, a college known for producing successful offensive linemen in the NFL.  

Like Cole, he, too, has experience playing both center and guard.  However, his main position is guard, where he started 49 times in 55 games with the Bears.  Pro Football Focus ranked Daniels as the fourth best available offensive lineman in free agency, so this signing could end up being the best one of the bunch.

After making the big splash in signing Mitchell Trubisky, who many expect to be the team's next starting quarterback, it is certainly encouraging to see the Steelers focus on protecting their new asset.  Adding two linemen with four years of experience each, along with Okorafor who already has experience with the team, will definitely go a long way in providing more stability to his unit.  

And as the new quarterback, it goes a long way to see your new team make it a point to add some protection for you up front.  Not to mention, Trubisky and Daniels played together as members of the Bears, a nice added bonus for two positions that communicate as much as the quarterback and offensive line do.

This also goes a long way toward opening up holes for last draft's 1st round running back, Najee Harris.  Harris showed he has tremendous ability as a running back, but the line really let him down last season.  A running back is only as good as the blockers in front of him, unless you're a freakish, out-of-this-world human, like Derrick Henry.

I talked many times last year about how the offensive line was the root of the problems on offense, so these signings are certainly a step in the right direction.  Something that shouldn't go overlooked is that all three players signed three-year deals.  To me, that signifies that the Steelers plan making these three guys the core of their offensive line for the foreseeable future.  

After a season where they started two rookies, it's great to see the Steelers adding some experience up front to not only ease the transition for Trubisky, but also for the offense as a whole.  We can't forget that this will be their first season without Ben Roethlisberger at the helm since the early 2000s.  While I'm sure there are many signings that the Steelers still have yet to make, seeing them focus on the offensive line right off the bat is a good sign for this team's future.

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