Steelers are mismanaging yet another contract following James Daniels news

The Steelers seem to be against the idea of giving James Daniels a new deal, and from the team's perspective, it makes no sense.
Pittsburgh Steelers guard James Daniels (78)
Pittsburgh Steelers guard James Daniels (78) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

News broke that the Steelers are reportedly not planning on giving James Daniels an extension this offseason. Despite the fact that he will be poised to enter free agency a year from now and has been a good starter for the offense, it seems like 2024 will be his final year in Pittsburgh. This isn't just speculation, as Daniels himself said in an interview with Alan Saunders that the team told him they would not be inking him to a new deal.

This seems like a mistake by the Steelers. For the longest time, the offensive line was a wreck for this team. Daniels was the first step in getting this unit back on track. Now, with three highly selected rookie starters and another good veteran in Isaac Seumalo, the rebuild seems to be complete. Letting your best starter over the past two seasons walk is an unwise choice.

What is holding the Steelers back?

It isn’t like the team is strapped for cash either. They have plenty of cap space to accommodate a new deal, even with Daniels likely looking for a healthy pay raise given the boost in the guard market as of late.

While handing out a 15-plus million-dollar-a-year deal (the floor of what Daniels can expect) seems like a big investment, the team is in a good spot to do so. Three of the starters are on rookie deals, and your other guard still has two years left on a moderate deal. Daniels isn’t near a cliff either, as he will turn 27 this season. Why wouldn’t you want to keep a great guard in the prime of his career?

Fans are quick to point to Mason McCormick as the solution. While he was a good value pick, banking on him becoming a top-of-the-line starter seems bold given the fact that he was only a fourth-round pick. If he does become a quality starter, you also have Seamalo to consider replacing given his older age.

You can’t even work in the franchise tag effectively with Daniels, as the estimated cost for an offensive lineman on the tag next year is nearly 25 million dollars, which would make Daniels the highest-paid guard in the league. If you don’t give him the tag, odds are he tests free agency to see what his options are, and I would expect a better offer to surface than what the Steelers would be providing.

Despite overhauling the line and investing a lot of resources in the group, it appears as though the rebuild might not be over. It makes so much sense to ink Daniels to a new deal and keep this line intact for the next few seasons. The Steelers are dropping the ball here and making a big mistake if extension talks have truly closed.

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