7 players who could be playing their final season with Steelers

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers
Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

I remember a time when the Pittsburgh Steelers would keep many of their best player from the start of their careers until they day they retired. But in a rapidly changing NFL, this is getting increasingly more difficult to do. With a salary cap in place and players leaving for sweeter offers in free agency, roster turnover is inevitable.

Nobody likes to think of the business side of things when it comes to football, but all 32 teams go through the same thing each year. Following the 2024 season, we could see a massive wave of starters leaving town.

Though some of these players could be retained, Omar Khan could look to take his team in a new direction in 2025 and beyond. Here are seven players who could be playing their final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

RB Najee Harris

The Steelers elected to decline the fifth-year option for running back Najee Harris. This means that he will become a free agent in 2025, barring a contract extension. It feels unlikely that something will get done.

Both Harris and Jaylen Warren are entering a contract year, but Warren is a better scheme fit in Arthur Smith's wide zone offense and has been the more efficient running back over the past two years. It's also worth noting that Warren is younger with significantly fewer carries (which likely means more tread is left on the tires).

Najee will be able to get more money elsewhere in 2025 -- especially if he's able to earn a fourth-straight season of at least 1,000 yards. This could be his final year with the Steelers.

TE Pat Freiermuth

Steelers fans have been talking about a potential Pat Freiermuth contract extension all offseason, but there has been no word from the team that they are looking to get something done. Like Harris, Freiermuth is set to become a free agent in 2025.

Last year, the former second-round pick had trouble staying on the field. When he was deployed on offense, he was seldom used as a receiving weapon. Freiermuth's extensive injury and concussion history make an extension risky enough. If he doesn't mesh with Arthur Smith's new offense, this will be his final season in Pittsburgh.

OG James Daniels

James Daniels is entering a contract year. When the Steelers signed him during the 2022 offseason, he was already considered one of the best offensive linemen on the team (which was a pretty low bar at the time). Now after all the changes and investments Pittsburgh made to their offensive line, there's a chance that Daniels could be the weakest link of the starting five unit.

The Steelers drafted South Dakota State OG Mason McCormick in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and the small school product has the size, physicality, and athletic tools to develop into a starting-level guard for Pittsburgh. Omar Khan could choose to let Daniels walk and turn the page on another Kevin Colbert signing following the 2024 season.

OG Isaac Seumalo

Isaac Seumalo really came on strong for the Steelers late in the 2023 season, and he was the best offensive lineman on the team down the stretch. However, the veteran's age and contract situation could come into play after the 2024 season.

Seumalo turns 31 years old in October, and he has a cap number of over $10.91 million for the 2025 season. If his performance takes a step back this year, the Steelers could choose to extend James Daniels (who is still just 26 years old) and let go of Seumalo. Pittsburgh could save $7.875 million in salary cap space if they release him after the 2024 season, according to Over the Cap.

DL Larry Ogunjobi

Larry Ogunjobi is a player the Steelers should have considered cutting this offseason due to his high cap number which doesn't match his performance on the field. However, Pittsburgh didn't address the interior defensive line until the sixth round of the NFL Draft, and they didn't find much help at the position in free agency.

Ogunjobi will be 30 years old and is coming off a down season where he was a non-factor in most games. Pittsburgh could save $7 million by releasing him in 2025. This is a decision that is very likely to happen barring a dominant season by the veteran defensive lineman in 2024.

LB Cole Holcomb

After adding former Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Queen in free agency and one of the nation's best, Payton Wilson, in the third round of the NFL Draft, Cole Holcomb's tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers could be short-lived.

Even if the veteran linebacker returns to full strength after the gruesome knee injury he suffered in 2023, his role could quickly diminish. I like Holcomb, but he's got a $2 million roster bonus due in 2025, and the Steelers could save $6 million by getting out of his contract after the 2024 season.

DL Cameron Heyward

Like it or not, this could be it for the great Cameron Heyward. At some point, every player has to wave goodbye to the game they love, and that could come after the 2024 season for the former 2011 first-round pick. Last year, Heyward spent the first half of the season on IR with a groin injury, and he wasn't quite his usual self when he returned to the field.

Heyward is 35 years old and is starting to play on borrowed time. When you combine that with the fact that he has an expiring contract, this could be the time for a mutual parting. I won't be shocked if Heyward wants to keep playing football, but it's not a lock that he will finish his NFL career as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.