3 AFC North rival signings that could be problematic for the Steelers
By Tommy Jaggi
In his first offseason as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Omar Khan made every effort to ensure that his team is going to be as competitive as possible. Early in the 2023 free agency period, Khan cut players loose and moved money around to add depth to positions like linebacker, cornerback, and offensive guard.
Sadly, Pittsburgh might not have taken a big step forward in their division. Though the Ravens more or less stood pat (while simultaneously burning bridges with QB Lamar Jackson), the Browns and Bengals got aggressive with some signings that could potentially negate what the Steelers will attempt to do when these teams face each other twice per year. Here are three AFC North rival signings that could prove to be problematic for Pittsburgh.
3. Steelers will have to account for ballhawk Juan Thornhill
The Kansas City Chiefs selected safety Juan Thornhill in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and despite some ups and downs early in his career, he's been better than his passer rating surrendered would indicate. After recording a whopping 13 interceptions at Virginia (6 of which came during his senior season), Thornhill has earned 8 picks in his first four seasons with the Chiefs.
Now the ballhawk recently inked a deal with the Cleveland Browns in free agency. Last year, starter John Johnson had just 1 interception and 4 passes defended in 17 games as he was credited for surrendering 429 yards in his coverage. Meanwhile, Thornhill is coming off a three-interception season in which he graded out as the 20th-best safety in the league, per Pro Football Focus -- including the 12th-best coverage grade.
Kenny Pickett should be able to catch Thornhill off guard at times, but he will need to be careful when airing it out in his direction. He has the ball skills to make the Steelers pay on any given pass.