The Steelers have not gotten much better at the linebacker spot and it should be a focal point of improvement before the season starts.
The Steelers are currently facing a conundrum that the team has not been able to find a remedy for. The inside linebacker spot has always been a position storied with many great players, but that has gone away in recent years. There is no James Farrior, Jack Lambert, or Lawrence Timmons for that matter to become the alpha dog in the middle.
This defense needs another player to emerge in the middle of this defensive unit for them to become a tougher group to play against. Myles Jack was brought in during the offseason as the opposite starter, but that plan has gone to the wayside. He seems to be the best linebacker among the group by far.
Devin Bush and Robert Spillane are currently listed as the co-starters and that should worry fans. Spillane is having a good camp according to most reports, but you know what you are getting from him. Bush really needs to figure things out fast or this team needs to start looking at answers on the outside to hopefully find a solution like they had to last season, even if the Joe Schobert experiment failed.
Dont’a Hightower has a history with the Steelers
Dont’a Hightower is an interesting name still out in the free agent market. He did not have his best season in 2021, but he was also dealing with constant injuries throughout the year. A healthy veteran player that could provide solid snaps and leadership to this group would be a nice addition.
Most believe that he will either retire or join the Patriots again, and those thoughts warrant belief. He has been a great linebacker in the league for a while and the Steelers even tried signing him when he was a free agent a handful of years ago. He decided to return to the Patriots, but maybe this time would be different if Mike Tomlin gave him a call.
L.J. Fort could be a cheap signing that the team knows
L.J. Fort is a player that left the Steelers for a brighter future with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency a while ago. Things did not work out for him there and he settled back in with the Baltimore Ravens. He did well during his time with the AFC North rivals before an injury set him back.
His career could be over as he still awaits a call to action from one of these 32 employers in the NFL. Pittsburgh might be wise to reach out and see what kind of health and level of fitness he is at to play. A healthy Fort would bring a reliable veteran that could become the starter for this club.
Deion Jones would have a chance to rebound with the Steelers
Here is the first trade scenario candidate on this list for the black and gold to check out. Deion Jones was one of the best upcoming linebackers in the NFL a couple of years ago and things have soured for him. For one reason or another, he has not seen the same high level of play that made the Falcons feel comfortable enough to give him a big contract extension.
The Steelers would need to figure out the cap logistics to make this work and see if this trade would be worth the risk. Jones has been on some bad defenses over the last couple of years and would benefit from a change of scenery. If he and Jack return to form, this would be a strength of the defense moving forward.
C.J. Mosely knows the franchise well during his time with a division foe
C.J. Mosely was once one of the top inside linebackers in the NFL, but he has begone to slip as the years have gone by. His days with the New York Jets have not been the best of his career, but the quality of his teammates has also deteriorated as well. The biggest issue for adding Mosley onto the roster would be his ginormous cap hit.
He is hovering around a $17-$18 million cap hit for the next three seasons and that would provide an issue for the Steelers to work around. His best years were when he was under the employment of the Baltimore Ravens, despite him having somewhat of a bounce back year in 2021. He is more of a run stuffer kind of guy, but he would be better equipped to play on this defense than Bush or Spillane.
Anthony Hitchens could be another veteran option the Steelers try
Anthony Hitchens has passed his prime as he sits at 30 years old. He is not the player that he used to be with the Dallas Cowboys and is on the decline. He is coming off a bad season that did not see him help the Kansas City Chiefs too much. Getting another chance in the NFL is something Hitchens still deserves in 2022.
The Steelers normally like to stay young, but the free agent crop is dry now at inside linebacker. Bringing him in to try out for the team and signing him if all goes well should be in consideration for the club. They need to do something at the current state of the inside spot, they cannot expect good results with how their current starters stack up.
The Steelers have a lot of issues at their starting inside linebacker spot opposite of Myles Jack at the moment. The team needs to find an answer before the preseason concludes.