4 Steelers free agents who could be forced into retirement

These Steelers free agents may have already played their final snaps in the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Arizona Cardinals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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With how quickly things ended in the postseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers know that they can't 'run it back' with their current roster. Mike Tomlin's squad needed outside assistance from the Titans in Week 18 just to enter the tournament -- only to lose to the Bills by multiple scores in the Wild Card round.

Since then, the NFL has announced a substantial raise to the 2024 salary cap, and the front office will be moving money around to maximize their efforts in free agency. This could include finding several new starters, and more could come in the 2024 NFL Draft.

This means that most of their pending free agents will be looking for employment elsewhere. Sadly, some of these players may have seen their final opportunity to play in an NFL game. Here are four Steelers free agents who could be forced into retirement if they can't land on a roster in 2024.

1. Markus Golden, EDGE

Markus Golden has had an excellent NFL career that included three seasons of 10-plus sacks during his time with the Arizona Cardinals. Coming into the league as an undersized pass rusher with concerningly poor athletic testing, nobody thought Golden would last this long or be as good as he has.

In 2023 with the Steelers, Golden still proved to be a solid player in a reserve role behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Unfortunately, he's not guaranteed to find work in the NFL in free agency. If Pittsburgh is satisfied with 2023 rookie Nick Herbig, they could find a young player with special teams ability as their fourth edge defender for the 2024 season.

If this proves to be the case, Golden will seek employment elsewhere. However, due to his compact frame and subpar mobility, Golden won't be a fit with every NFL team. The biggest factor here though is his age. Golden will be 33 years old for the 2024 season.

Because he doesn't play special teams, he likely needs to be viewed as a top-three edge defender on a team to make another NFL roster. Golden has logged just 24 total special teams snaps over the past four seasons, and he hasn't played more than 21 special teams snaps in a year since his rookie season in 2015. His inability to contribute in this facet could mark the end of his impressive NFL career.