3 Steelers impending free agents who need to be brought back

The Steelers don't have high-profile free agents this year, but Pittsburgh would be wise to bring these three players back for the 2024 season.

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Free agency is always an exciting time of year for dedicated football fans. Everyone is searching for hope with a new offseason dawning, and free agency marks the first step in building that championship roster. But before March rolls around, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to be examining which of their own free agents should be brought back this year.

To be honest, the list is very short. Pittsburgh has the largest percentage of snaps played in 2023 still under contract for the 2024 season. They aren't on track to lose any star players in free agency. In fact, of their 16 free agents who could be hitting the market this year, only two of them were starters by the end of the season.

Mason Rudolph is the most notable name on the list, thanks to the way he closed out the 2023 season. But I recently wrote about why it doesn't make sense for Pittsburgh to bring him back in 2024. Instead, here are the three impending free agents the Pittsburgh Steelers should bring back next season.

1. Armon Watts, DL

Armon Watts earns my award for the most pleasant and unexpected surprise on the Steelers roster throughout the course of the year. Watts wasn't credited with a single start in the 15 games he dressed for, and his impact was subtle enough that it often went unnoticed. However, when I went back and reviewed the film each week, Watts was constantly making a positive impact on the defensive line.

I would urge you not to read too deeply into the box score numbers here. They aren't pretty. Watts earned just 0.5 sacks and 0 tackles for a loss on 273 snaps this season, per Pro Football Reference. However, this is not a good representation of his performance.

Though he wasn't productive as a pass rusher, Watts generated consistent pressure, which often allowed his teammates on the defensive line to clean up. It's also worth noting that the veteran earned the 17th-best grade among all NFL interior defenders this season, via PFF. On a relatively small sample, his 77.3 even narrowly topped players like Keeanu Benton and Cameron Heyward.

Armon Watts is a 27-year-old journeyman defensive lineman who won't be a cornerstone player for the Steelers. However, he was rock-solid in 2023, and he tops my list of Steelers free agents who should be brought back in 2024.