5 free agents Steelers must sign to fix pathetic run defense

Andrew Billings #99 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Andrew Billings #99 of the Cleveland Browns (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Houston Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney (55) Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Steelers could sign McKinney

Benardrick McKinney has had a weird 2021, to say the least. Once perceived as an up-and-coming off-ball linebacker, injuries derailed his 2020 season. This resulted in a rare player-for-player trade, as the Dolphins acquired McKinney for veteran edge rusher Shaq Lawson (there was a minor draft pick swap as well). Neither made it out of camp for their new teams though, and McKinney has been on the Giants practice squad since.

The Steelers need to find a way to sign him though, as McKinney would give the Steelers a third body to use in their inside linebacker rotation. Joe Schobert has been fine, but Devin Bush has struggled to play downhill as a run defender. McKinney would be able to fill that void. He can fill run gaps well and can blitz if needed.

Essentially, McKinney could serve as a lesser version of Williams: a blitzing and run defense linebacker that shouldn’t be on the field in coverage. For a team struggling to find itself as a run defense team, this would be more than enough. Assuming the Giants don’t protect McKinney this week, the Steelers need to make an effort to bring him in.