5 free agents Steelers were wise to avoid

Omar Khan knew what he was doing by not throwing money at these five free agents in 2024.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers were as active as we could have envisioned early in the 2024 free-agency period. Before the legal tampering period even kicked off, Omar Khan signed QB Russell Wilson to a veteran minimum contract and followed up this move by signing the top linebacker on the market, Patrick Queen.

Pittsburgh filled holes at punter and safety before trading Kenny Pickett and trading for Justin Fields. With so many moves being made around the league, the Steelers exercised just enough patience so as to not fall victim to bad financial investments.

The same can't be said for every team. Though we don't know how these signings will turn out, many players were overpaid. This is often the case when you get into a bidding war with other teams in free agency.

The Steelers were able to save money at the quarterback position while restocking their roster with quality players on affordable contracts. Here are five free agents they were wise to avoid in 2024.

Kirk Cousins, Quarterback

I like Kirk Cousins. The veteran quarterback was the most coveted player on the free agent market, and we knew he was going to break the bank. While he was the best QB option available, the Steelers were wise to avoid a costly bidding war with the Falcons.

Cousins ultimately inked a 4-year, $180 million deal with Atlanta with a whopping $90 million fully guaranteed. This is a substantial amount of money for a soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles injury.

I don't believe that either Russell Wilson or Justin Fields is a better QB option than Cousins for the 2024 season, but when you factor in the cost, the Steelers made the right move. Pittsburgh was able to revamp their quarterback room by adding two respectable players that will come at a major bargain compared to what the rest of the league is paying their starting quarterbacks.

Curtis Samuel, Wide receiver

Curtis Samuel is a quality receiver, and the Steelers clearly have a need at the position. However, this free-agent signing would not have made any sense for Pittsburgh. Much like Diontae Johnson -- who was traded to the Panthers -- Samuel is not a scheme fit for Arthur Smith's offense.

The bigger factor here is the cost. The Bills will dish out $8 million per season and over $14 million guaranteed for a WR2. Samuel has had a respectable NFL career, but this would have been a poor use of money for a player who doesn't fit the mold of what the Steelers want to do on offense.

Rayshawn Jenkins, Safety

There was an influx of safeties that hit the free agent market in 2024, so we knew that finding one wouldn't be an issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, it's all about finding one at an affordable price. In today's game, safeties don't have the same impact they once did, so this isn't a position in which teams should allocate too many resources.

Rayshawn Jenkins was one of the names out there this year. The former Jaguars safety was snatched up by the Seattle Seahawks on a 2-year, $12 million deal. This is a lot of money to give to a 30-year-old safety who hasn't had a good season since 2020.

In comparison, the Steelers were able to sign former Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott to a 2-year, $6 million deal. This was literally half the cost for a younger, better football player.

Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback

It's hard to believe that long-time backup quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, is making more than Russell Wilson and Justin Fields combined in 2024. Brissett signed a 1-year deal with the Browns for $8 million during the 2024 offseason.

Meanwhile, the Steelers will pay $1.2 million for Wilson and just over $3.2 million for Fields in 2024. These two quarterbacks are combing to for just over $4.4 million this season -- cheaper than backups like Brissett, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, Drew Lock, and Sam Darnold.

Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback

The Steelers are desperate for cornerback help. Even after the trade for Donte Jackson, they are still lacking both depth and a CB who can man the slot position in 2024. However, I applaud them for not throwing elite money at an unspectacular cornerback group in free agency.

After L'Jarius Sneed and Jaylon Johnson were tagged by their respective teams, the Steelers could have made a choice to overpay for the next best option. Instead, they opted to be patient. Chidobe Awuzie was one CB they were familiar with. The former Bengals CB signed a lucrative 3-year, $36 million deal with the Titans.

This is a lot of money for a CB who turns 29 years old and is coming off a down season. In fact, it's nearly as much as the Steelers paid to land 24-year-old Pro Bowl linebacker, Patrick Queen. There weren't any cornerbacks on the market worth breaking the bank, and Omar Khan made a wise decision not to overpay for an unspectacular player.

All contract numbers courtesy of Over the Cap.