Predicting the Steelers expensive starting defense after their moves in free agency

The Steelers defense just got more expensive after free agency. Here is the projected starting lineup on defense.

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Some have brought up the disdain for the Steelers paying their defense a lot of money. They are one of the most expensive units in football. The hardest thing is that the NFL is an offensive-led league. It has put Pittsburgh football in limbo over the past seven years. They haven't been great, but they also haven't been terrible either.

Since free agency has passed, that expensive defensive group has only increased. The Steelers had plenty of needs to fill this offseason and that will continue through the draft. It will be interesting to see how the black and gold find different ways to fill out the roster as they try to get better. This defense should be better than last year if they can stay healthy.

Steelers Defense should be pretty straight forward to predict

The Steeler's defense should be pretty cut and dry when it comes to the starters. Plenty of members from last season will return, while free agency has added some new blood to the lineup. The upcoming NFL Draft will also provide some players who could potentially start. Pittsburgh should have a quality defense for this upcoming season.

Starting Defensive line: Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi, and Keeanu Benton

Unless a top-tier prospect falls to the Steelers in the upcoming draft, they will have the same starting defensive line returning this season. Hopefully, Cam Heyward can stay healthy and come back to form. Pittsburgh is also banking on Larry Ogunjobi to bounce back from a poor performance last season. Keeanu Benton should get a bigger role in year two.

Starting Outside linebackers: T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith

No arguments here as T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith remain the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL. Much of the Steeler's success in 2024 will be directly affected by the health of these two. Watt was able to stay healthy for most of last season and that allowed the black and gold to succeed. Highsmith has become a much more important player to this defense than many give him credit for.

Starting Inside linebackers: Patrick Queen and Elandon Roberts

There will be competition at inside linebacker, but it will only be intensified if Pittsburgh takes one early in the draft. If they neglect the position, then it will be Patrick Queen and Elandon Roberts's job to lose. Cole Holcomb seems like he will miss time stretching into the regular season. Kwon Alexander may be re-signed later in the process, but it is Roberts's job to lose next to Queen.

Starting Cornerbacks: Joey Porter Jr., Donte Jackson, and Rookie

Joey Porter Jr. is the top cornerback for the Steelers heading into his second year. Donte Jackson will be the other starting outside cornerback, but he could slide into the slot role if he struggles early and often. The Steelers will likely select a slot cornerback in the upcoming draft and have them start on defense. It should be a better group than last season. Don't discount Patrick Peterson returning to fill the slot role if they can't address it in the draft.

Starting Safeties: Minkah Fitzpatrick and DeShon Elliott

Safety was a spot that needed an upgrade. Injuries destroyed the position last year, so hopefully the starters can stay on the field this time around. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a star defender, but he was forced to play outside his style last season. DeShon Elliott should fix that problem as he can fill the void that Terrell Edmunds left behind. Elliott should be the best safety partner that Fitzpatrick had since joining the Steelers.

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