Steelers should fork up for a quality OT during the 2023 free agency period

Orlando Brown Jr. #57 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up against the Buffalo Bills at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Orlando Brown Jr. #57 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up against the Buffalo Bills at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers must upgrade the offensive tackle position, and here is the ideal player to target during the 2023 free agency period. 

Heading into the 2022 season, fans knew that the offensive line was going to give the Pittsburgh Steelers trouble at times. While it hasn’t been as detrimental as many of us would have thought, this is an area that definitely needs to improve.

Advanced statistics from this year have shown that the interior offensive line — comprised of James Daniels and Kevin Dotson at guard and Mason Cole at center — has actually been pretty solid. While I would argue that they could still use a more consistent option in place of Dotson, it’s becoming increasingly clear that offensive tackle is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest positions of need.

For years, the Steelers have somehow been under the impression that offensive tackles don’t matter. At least, that’s the impression they give, as they failed to address the position once again. I think their ignorance here comes from being spoiled with OL coach Mike Munchak in the past, as he was able to get excellent play out of late-round players and undrafted free agents like Kelvin Beachum and Alejandro Villanueva.

It’s safe to say those days are certainly behind us, and it’s time for the Steelers to start getting serious about investing in the position. However, offensive tackle is not a position they like to spend high on in the NFL Draft. If this remains the case, post-Kevin Colbert, there is one player they should go after this offseason.

Steelers should pursue OT Orlando Brown

I don’t think Dan Moore or Chukwuma Okorafor have been outright terrible, but it’s clear that the Steelers will need better opinions at offensive tackle if they want to maximize the potential of this offense. Now that the team has invested in Kenny Pickett, they need to make sure they give him every chance to succeed, and part of doing that is getting a long-term blindside protector.

The best name set to hit the free agent market next season is Orlando Brown Jr. After beginning his career with the Ravens in 2018, Brown made three straight Pro Bowls from 2019 to 2021. As a member of the Chiefs for the past two years, Brown has been a key component in keeping Patrick Mahomes upright and has been a staple to one of the league’s best offenses.

Kansas City recognized his value when they traded the 31st overall pick away for the mammoth offensive tackle just days before the 2021 NFL Draft. This proved to be a good signing.

Because of the investment made, Brown isn’t guaranteed to be available this offseason, but in order to stick around, the Chiefs would have to double-franchise tag him (as he is already playing under the tag this season). This will make him very expensive, and Kansas City would have to absorb his cap hit all in one season. If Brown doesn’t have interest in staying, that would make retaining him behind the 2023 season almost impossible.

For this reason, the Chiefs may hunt for a more long-term option. That’s where the Steelers can step in. If they are to make a splash in free agency, they need to go big or go home. No more of the Eric Ebron, Trai Turner, or Myles Jack signings. They need a true cornerstone player.

At 6’8” and 345 pounds with 35” arms, Brown has outstanding size for the OT position. He’s also more than a stop-gap player; he’s a guy you can build around. Brown is still just 26 years old despite being in his fifth NFL season.

Obviously, obtaining Brown wouldn’t come cheap, as we are probably looking at a contract in the $20 million per year range with a lot of guaranteed money. However, he plays one of the most important positions in football, and it’s a small price to pay to find a quality left tackle who can protect Pickett.

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It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs try to do with Orlando Brown, but if he indeed hits the free agent market in 2023, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to pounce at the opportunity to upgrade a position they have ignored for far too long.