Are Steelers spending their money the right way in free agency?

Myles Jack runs on the field during Wednesday's training camp session. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]Jki 072821 Jagstrainingcam 4
Myles Jack runs on the field during Wednesday's training camp session. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]Jki 072821 Jagstrainingcam 4 /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have spent more money than they ever have in free agency, but are they making wise decisions that will improve their future?

So far, the opinions for Pittsburgh’s 2022 free agency seem overwhelmingly positive. Even the infamous Colin Cowherd recently gave the Steelers a pat on the back for their recent moves.

During the first few days of the legal tampering period and free agency, Kevin Colbert managed to bring in some interesting names like Myles Jack, James Daniels, and Mitchell Trubisky while adding other former starters like CB Levi Wallace and OG/C Mason Cole.

While like this seems like a terrific haul for the Steelers and one of the best free agencies they’ve had in years, I wouldn’t go putting the cart before the horse just yet. While Pittsburgh did bring a handful of new starters from other teams, I have to question if this was the best use of their money.

Before we dive in, I want to make it clear that I think the Steelers have done a pretty good job. They managed to fill some crater-sized holes with a few quality players and their roster is already looking like it should be improved from what we saw last season.

However, I would argue that some of their moves might not have been the best use of their ample free-agent spending money this offseason.

What could the Steelers have done differently?

I leaped for joy when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Bears OG James Daniels. As a former 39th overall pick by Chicago in 2018, Daniels did not disappoint. He was a player I have been banging the table for prior to free agency.

Daniels was a center coming into the league but played guard for the Bears. Over his first four seasons, he has been excellent — never once grading out worse than the 20th-best player in the NFL at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.

Perhaps what attracted me most to Daniels is knowing that they got a true cornerstone football player who won’t just be around for the next year or two. Rather a 24-year-old stud who can be a centerpiece to this offensive line by the time this team is ready to compete for another Super Bowl (which, sadly, probably won’t be for at least a few more years).

The same cannot be said of the other moves the Steelers made. While Pittsburgh hasn’t targeted any old players, the other guys they brought in likely aren’t long-term solutions.

Take Myles Jack, for instance. Jack is still just 26 years old, but his play has gotten progressively worse, and he has a degenerative knee issue that was a big red flag to some teams coming into the NFL Draft. In addition, his contract is set up in such a way that could make him a cap casualty as early as next offseason.

Meanwhile, we know that Trubisky is only going to be a stop-gap quarterback for us until the Steelers find a more permanent solution, while Cole and Wallace have been just average NFL starters. In addition, I wasn’t a fan of forking up $9.75 million in yearly value to retain an underwhelming offensive tackle in Chukwuma Okorafor.

For months, I’ve warned against piecing out money to ‘average’ players instead of going after elite guys on the market. The way Kevin Colbert has done business this offseason very much lines up with what we’ve seen in the past.

Over the last two years, fans seemed to be overjoyed with mid-level signings like Eric Ebron, Trai Turner, and Melvin Ingram. But I knew that these guys were only temporary.

Instead of paying a bunch of guys average money, I think it would have been in Pittsburgh’s best interest to go hard after 2-3 top-notch players who could still be around (and playing at a high level) the next time this team is ready to truly compete for a Super Bowl.

If it were up to me, I would take back nearly everything but the Daniels and Trubisky signings and spend the rest of my money on targeting great, young players like J.C. Jackson, Carlton Davis, or Randy Gregory.

Grading Steelers intriguing free agent signings early in the process. light. Trending

I think Kevin Colbert does a fine job — I really do. He made some solid additions to this otherwise underwhelming roster to help the Steelers get back on track. I just think that most of these players are going to be gone before this team truly is in a position to make a run at a Super Bowl.