Steelers barely missed out on signing EDGE Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Ryan Kerrigan #91 of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell just short of being able to land former Pro Bowl edge defender, Ryan Kerrigan, in free agency. 

After not addressing the edge defender position until the 6th round of the 2021 NFL Draft, it appears the Steelers were in the market for adding a quality pass rusher after all. It was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter Monday morning that Pittsburgh was one of the three teams that showed the most interest in free agent edge defender, Ryan Kerrigan.

In the end, the former 4-time Pro Bowler for the Washington Football Team elected to stay inside the division and sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the fact that the Steelers barely missed out on signing a high-quality player like Kerrigan shows that their search for another good rotational pass rusher is not yet over.

Though he played in a base 4-3 defense in Washington, Kerrigan would have been a remarkable fit with the Steelers. The impressive pass rusher has had an excellent career so far that includes 454 total tackles and 95.5 sacks through his first decade in the league. Kerrigan saw just one start in 2020, as an impressive duo of Chase Young and Montez Sweat took over, but he still had a respectable showing and pitched in 5.5 sacks last year.

The former Pro Bowler turns 33 before the start of the season, and the Steelers probably could have had him for a reasonable price tag. Still, their willingness to pursue such a high-profile candidate begs the question: will they try to land another quality pass rusher in free agency yet?

Which EDGE could Steelers pursue in free agency?

Let’s be clear about this: despite Ryan Kerrigan’s impressive NFL resume, he wasn’t going to be brought on to replace Alex Highsmith. Rather, he would have made for a quality rotational piece on a team that is desperately lacking exactly that.

After barely missing out on the veteran edge defender, which other players could the Steelers pursue?

Last week, I wrote an article on four discount free agent edge defenders Steelers could sign, and Ryan Kerrigan was one of them. The other three players on my list remain unsigned. They include Justin Houston, Bruce Irvin, and former Steeler Anthony Chickillo.

Of the three, Houston would clearly be the best option. Like Kerrigan, Houston is also getting up there in age at 32 years old, but he may even be the better player of the two at this point. Despite moving to a part-time role over the past two seasons with the Colts, Houston has been thoroughly impressive – earning 19.0 sacks since 2019 despite playing less than 65 percent of total defensive snaps.

After being on the market this long and considering his age, the Steelers may still have a chance to nab the talented pass rusher. I can picture it now: Justin Houston rotating in late in the game and teeing off against winded offensive tackles. This is a dream scenario, but it’s hard to say how realistic this is.

Trending. Steelers best/worst case scenario for Harris’s rookie season. light

What we do know is that the Steelers probably aren’t done adding another edge defender. While I’m a big fan of rookie Quincy Roche, Pittsburgh would be wise not to rely on him in such a big capacity in his first NFL season. There are still some quality edge rushers on the market after missing out on Ryan Kerrigan, and the Steelers could pounce soon.