5 Free Agents That Should Be on the Steelers Radar

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The NFL Free Agency period begins today. Officially, it doesn't start until the new league year begins on Wednesday at 10 AM ET, but teams are able to speak with free agents two days before.  This is considered the legal tampering period.  So news of teams signing players will begin to bubble up today, but contracts won't be officially signed until Wednesday.  With that being said, there are five free agents the Steelers need to be looking at in order to fill some clear holes in the 2022-23 roster.

Offensive Tackle - Taylor Lewan

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line took enough of a step forward last season that I don't think they will want to use their first round pick on a lineman.  Even though they do want to protect new quarterback Kenny Pickett, and open up more holes for Najee Harris, I don't think it is as pressing of a need as it was going into the last season.

The way in which the Steelers were able to take that step forward with their line was through free agency.  Last offseason they added Mason Cole and James Daniels.  Cole and Daniels each started all 17 games for the Steelers in the '22-'23 season.  That success may lead the Steelers to seek more offensive line help through free agency.

One lineman the Steelers have been linked to is offensive tackle, Taylor Lewan.  Lewan is a former Pro Bowler, but has been plagued by injuries two of the last three seasons.  He even appeared in a graphic for the Tennessee Titans during one of their prime time games where they had him in a wheelchair.  An odd choice for the network graphics department, but does show the narrative of Lewan's career lately.  If he can stay healthy, he is still an elite offensive lineman, and should come cheap given the injury history.  I do think the Steelers will make a play for Lewan on a one-year deal.

Cornerback - Cam Sutton

Of course the easiest way for the Steelers to have signed Cam Sutton is to have offered him an extension before he hit free agency.  However, sometimes players, and their agents, just want to test the waters.  I don't see it out of the realm of possibility that just because the Steelers did not re-sign him yet, that Sutton does not return.  

Cam Sutton was drafted in 2017 and has spent his entire career with the Steelers.  He is one of the best cornerbacks the Steelers have drafted in recent years, whiffing on the position for the most part as of late.  Sutton was easily the Steelers' top corner last season with three interceptions and fifteen passes defended.  Sutton is familiar with the system and the coaching staff, and once he sees his value on the market, I hope the Steelers try and bring him back for that value.  

From all accounts he was happy in Pittsburgh and may take a small hometown discount.  Sometimes guys don't want to uproot their families and are happier just to stay put, if the team they were with their whole career can come close to the market value.  The Steelers are also pretty desperate at the position and may find it impossible to lose their best corner.

Cornerback - Patrick Peterson

If the Steelers want to go a little cheaper than Sutton, and potentially shorter terms, then Patrick Peterson might be their guy.  Peterson is four years older than Sutton, and more likely to take a 1-year deal than Sutton would be.  Peterson already received his big pay day from the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 where this is the first time Sutton has gotten to test free agency.

This move would signal to me that the Steelers do not like any corners in the draft where they are set to pick, and would want to wait until next year's draft to invest long-term into a rookie cornerback.  Peterson would be a nice bridge and is still very talented, starting all 17 games for the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings.  He signed with the Vikings last season for 1 yr/$4,000,000, and I think a deal around that would be right in the Steelers wheelhouse for a corner.  

Wide Receiver - DJ Chark

I haven't seen the Steelers linked to former Detroit Lion DJ Chark, but I want them to be.  When the Steelers traded wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears midseason, they didn't really have anyone step up as a deep threat.  Not that Claypool really was either, but it's something the Steelers have lacked.  

George Pickens is certainly a deep threat, but frankly, he can do everything.  He's a freak.  I'd like to see that true bang or bust, three receptions for two touchdowns and 90 yards type guy that the Steelers haven't had since Mike Wallace.

DJ Chark fits that mold.  If you've ever had Chark on your Fantasy Football team, he can very frustrating.  Because on the weeks you do play him, he'll settle for a catch and 15 yards.  But if you miss one of those Sundays where he catches that one 75+ yard touchdown, you're kicking yourself until Thursday.  If you don't like that type of receiver, fair enough, Chark isn't the guy for you.  However, Pickett was one of the best quarterbacks throwing the ball deep last season and I'd love for him to have Pickens on one side and DJ Chark on the other.  

Punter - Sam Martin

I think because of how bad the Steelers offense was perceived last season, and all of the ridicule going toward offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, it flew under the radar that the Steelers haven't had a good punter in quite some time.  And it may seem inconsequential, but when you're a team that wins games through your defense and keeping the other team off the scoreboard, field position is huge.  

The Steelers should look to sign free agent punter Sam Martin.  He finished last season14th in the league in average punting distance, but once you get outside of the top 3 punters, there is just a 1.2 yard difference between Martin and the No. 4 punter in the league, AJ Cole.  Martin would give the Steelers defense much more breathing room, and when you don't have offensive output like the Kansas City Chiefs or the Cincinnati Bengals, you need a good punter to pin teams deep.