Could Steelers upgrade the offensive line in free agency?
The Steelers offensive line struggled in 2019. Here are some players would provide an upgrade in the middle of their offense this season.
Under the direction of Mike Munchak, the Steelers assembled one of the league’s best and most consistent offensive lines for the past five years or so. Though just two of their starters were drafted above the third round, this group was solid in the run game and great against the pass.
Munchak left the Steelers last season, and the offensive line has quickly digressed in Pittsburgh. One of the league’s oldest units struggled last season as they ranked 30th in run blocking and 12th in pass protection last season. Four of their five starters are over 30 years old, and some improvements need to be made to prevent this unit from spiraling out of control.
While Pittsburgh doesn’t have a lot of money to work with this offseason, cap space can be cleared enough to bring in some solid talent. Ramon Foster is 34 years old, and the Steelers could save $4 million by letting him go this offseason.
Pittsburgh could look for younger talent to plug into the offensive line in hopes to give them a boost. Here are three free agent guards who could help this unit:
The former 9th overall pick by the New York Giants in the 2015 NFL Draft didn’t cut it as an offensive tackle. However, Ereck Flowers found a home at guard for the Redskins this season. The 6’6”, 330-pound guard played nearly 100 percent of offensive snaps this year for Washington and earned a respectable grade each of the past four years, according to Pro Football Focus. Flowers could be an instant upgrade over the aging Foster, and at just 25 years old, Flowers could stick around with this unit for years.
Joe Thuney played extremely well for the New England Patriots last season, and there is a chance that his price range could be out of reach for the Steelers. But if cap space can be moved around to land a player of Thuney’s caliber, we could see dramatic improvements to this line in 2020. Thuney, a former 3rd round pick by the Patriots in 2016, has improved every season, and he has appeared in all 64 games in his career. Pittsburgh doesn’t have much money to go around, but this is a player who could really help this team.
Here is a guy who really hasn’t been good for a few years now. Peat was selected just a few picks after Ereck Flowers back in the 2015 NFL Draft, but was considered somewhat of a busted pick. The five-year starter for the Saints even made the Pro Bowl in 2018. At just 26 years old, he would provide much-needed youth along the Steelers offensive line. Peat was drafted as a tackle, but has had years of experience at left guard – which is exactly where Pittsburgh could use him.
It’s hard to get a good gauge of what type of money these players will command on the open market or if they may sign extensions with their current teams. It’s unlikely Pittsburgh explores the route of signing a high-profile offensive lineman, but it is something that could instantly help their offense.