One offensive lineman Steelers must target as free agency opens up

James Daniels #68 of the Chicago Bears. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
James Daniels #68 of the Chicago Bears. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need help along the offensive line, and there is one player in particular who makes a ton of sense in free agency. 

While many Steelers fans were optimistic about their young offensive line entering the 2021 season, the complaints never stopped coming in after their young OL proved to be a disaster from day one.

It’s hard to put too much blame on anyone other than the members of the front office. Pittsburgh has neglected the offensive line for years, and the results have obviously caught up to them. In fact, Pittsburgh is the only team in the NFL who hasn’t spent as much as a first or second-round pick on the OL since 2012, via Pro Football Reference.

In addition, Pittsburgh is one of the only teams around the league that never seems to invest high in the offensive line in free agency. That should change this year, as Kevin Colbert has more cap space to work within 2022 than he has ever had.

For months, fans and journalists have been banging the drum for Steelers to go after offensive tackles like Terron Armstead and Orlando Brown (Brown was recently retained on the franchise tag by the Chiefs). Most recently, Buccanneers center Ryan Jensen has been a hot topic for Steelers fans.

However, there’s one name nobody seems to be mentioning. One free-agent offensive lineman who has flown under the radar this whole time, but deserves to be one of the most sought-after free agents this year: Bears OG James Daniels.

Steelers must pursue Daniels in free agency

If you are not familiar with James Daniels, allow me to shed some information on him. Daniels was the 39th overall pick by Chicago in the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite his high draft position, he doesn’t have Pro Bowl honors attached to his resume and he doesn’t seem to be drawing a huge crowd when it comes to offseason buzz. However, I can’t understand why he’s not more talked about.

Since coming into the league, Daniels has never been ranked lower than the 20th-best offensive guard in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Though the Bears’ offensive line collapsed all around him in 2021, Daniels still managed to grade out as the 19th-best guard in the league last season.

Listed at 6’4” and 295 pounds, Daniels isn’t huge, but he possesses excellent feet in pass protection and can easily get out in space as a run blocker. He really fits the mold quite well of the type of offensive linemen the Steelers have been looking for in recent years.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Daniels is his age. While bringing in a soon-to-be 31-year-old seasoned veteran like Ryan Jensen would have its advantages, Daniels is just 24 years old and should have many seasons left in the tank.

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If the goal of free agency it to find quality talent that could be around for the long haul, look no further than James Daniels. He’s one of my favorite players in free agency this year, and I really hope the Steelers pursue him on March 14th when the free agency negotiation period opens up.