3 pending free agents Steelers must pay attention to in the playoffs

General Manager Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
General Manager Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers are aging along the defensive line and they need more youth.

If we don’t want the Steelers to go through what they went through with their offensive line in 2019 and 2020, then we need to add some youth to the defensive line. Bringing in a guy like Rakeem Nunez-Roches would be a good start. He would instantly be better than everyone on the defensive line aside from Heyward, Tuitt, and Alualu.

He is a rotational piece, but he is very athletic and his versatility would allow him to rotate with any of our d linemen at any point. At just 45% of his team’s snaps, this run-stuffer has 20 total tackles along with 6 quarterback hits. He would also be a good enough backup that if an injury happened, he’d be able to mask it beautifully. While playing for one of the few defensive lines in the league that can compare to Pittsburgh’s he has been mature and shown the correct attitude in a rotational piece. He wouldn’t cause distractions even if he is good enough to start for most teams, and he would upgrade a definite hole in the roster that was shown when Alualu went down with an injury during the season.

While I think he could be a little pricey for a backup, due to a probable playoff run like Mark Barron accomplished a few seasons ago, I think it could be worth it seeing as how both Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt have dealt with season-ending injuries themselves. I wouldn’t go far as to say they are injury-prone, but I would say that having a great rotational piece to help lighten the load on certain downs would be a huge help for this aging defensive front.

The linebacking corp is getting younger, but the defensive line needs its own injection of youth. A rotational piece in his prime would be helpful to mend the transition likely coming in the next 2 or so seasons as Pittsburgh doesn’t have the draft capital or the cap to address the defensive line and the offense right now.

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None of these moves are blockbusters. However, with very little cap space to work with, in 2021, it is imperative that the Steelers make smart fiscal decisions to finally give them some real cap room. I think that all of these players bring real value and bang for their buck as Pittsburgh works to get ahold of their cap situation.