Ranking the Steelers best remaining safety options in free agency
By Tommy Jaggi
While many Pittsburgh Steelers fans were hopeful that both Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee would be returning to the team in 2023, that won't be the case. Kazee signed a two-year deal in free agency that has him sticking around through the 2024 season, but Edmunds took to social media to thank the Steelers and inform the fanbase that he is indeed moving on.
This leaves Pittsburgh with a pretty significant depth issue at the safety position. Minkah Fitzpatrick has mostly had a clean bill of health since entering the league, but he did miss some time in 2022. Meanwhile, Kazee was very solid when he played, but spent half of last season on IR and has an extensive injury history.
Though selecting a safety early in the NFL Draft is an option, the Steelers have more pressing needs at more important positions. Additionally, we've seen some quality safeties go for bargain prices this offseason. Here are the best-remaining safety fits Pittsburgh should target in free agency.
5. Steelers could target Keanu Neal
Don't get the recent Keanu Neal mixed up with the former Pro Bowl player we saw early in his NFL career. Two season-ending injuries claimed most of his 2018 and 2019 seasons, and he hasn't quite been the same since. Over the past several years, Neal hasn't been a great safety, but he still offers value and has managed to stay mostly healthy.
Last year, Neal logged a respectable 581 snaps on Tampa Bay's defense. In this role, he played mostly in the box while also offering snaps from the slot and at free safety. He earned the 9th-best pass-rush grade among NFL safeties last year, according to PFF.
Neal isn't ideal for every situation and package, as he's essentially been used like a linebacker in the later part of his career. Still, the Steelers could use a box safety who can take snaps as a nickel linebacker or dime defender. This would give them an element to their defense that they don't currently have. Just don't expect anything spectacular.