3 affordable free agents still available for Steelers to sign

The price is right for Pittsburgh to cover their bases with these three free agents before the NFL Draft.

Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans / Justin Ford/GettyImages

The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching, but the Pittsburgh Steelers can't afford to let off the gas when it comes to free-agent signings. Omar Khan has been as active as most general managers during the 2024 offseason, but there's still work to be done adding depth and security to the roster.

The last thing the Steelers want to do is pigeonhole themselves into reaching for a certain position in the draft because they have a glaring hole. Their depth issues must be resolved before they are on the clock.

While Pittsburgh can no longer afford to go out and blow big money at multiple positions after the moves they've already made, there are a few affordable free agents who are ripe for the picking. Here are three cheap free agents the Steelers should sign before the NFL Draft.

Chris Hubbard, OT

If the name sounds familiar, it's because this is the same Chris Hubbard who was a swing tackle for the Steelers from 2014 to 2017. Hubbard has been floating around the league for a decade. Not only does he always manage to find work, but he has done a very good job at times when his name has been called.

In 2023, Hubbard started all 9 games he played for the Tennessee Titans and graded out significantly better than any offensive tackle on the Steelers last year. It was nice to see he still had it in him after seeing the field for just five games combined in 2021 and 2022.

Hubbard is 33 years old and is only going to be paid like a backup at this stage of his career, but that's just what the Steelers need. He would offer security at the offensive tackle position and he could even compete to be the right tackle if Pittsburgh doesn't take one early in the draft -- allowing Broderick Jones to move back to his natural position.

Nick Gates, C

I don't think the Steelers would reach a desperate enough state where they would bring back Mason Cole, but crazier things have happened. Since cutting Cole, Omar Khan hasn't revealed a plan at center for Pittsburgh. There is no true center on the roster capable of stepping in, and veteran OG Nate Herbig is the only real option at the moment.

If the Steelers are okay with a baseline starter at an affordable price, Nick Gates is the player they should sign. Gates has his weaknesses in pass protection, but he had his best season in 2023. Essentially, Pittsburgh would be getting a better version of Mason Cole at a price they can afford.

The last thing the Steelers should do is reach for a center early in the draft simply because they have a need. Gates would fill this void and serve as a stop-gap player if the talent doesn't line up with the need in the NFL Draft.

Avonte Maddox, CB

Avonte Maddox was a very solid player for the Eagles in 2021 and 2022, but a pectoral injury forced him to miss significant time in 2023. As a result, Maddox played in just four games last season.

Had it not been for the major injury, Maddox could have been looking to make great money this offseason. As it stands, however, Maddox is a 28-year-old cornerback who is 5'9'' and only plays the slot. This narrows the field for the teams that might be interested in acquiring him (especially after suiting up for just 13 games in the past two years).

It just so happens that the Pittsburgh Steelers are desperate for a starting slot cornerback, and Maddox is just what the doctor ordered. Because of his extensive injury history, Omar Khan would still need to find a slot cornerback in the draft, but they wouldn't have to reach for one early.