Steelers find a big, bruising safety to pair with Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary

He's not Minkah, but he might be the perfect compliment to Fitzpatrick in Pittsburgh's secondary.

Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins
Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

After cutting ties with Keanu Neal, was only a matter of time before the Pittsburgh Steelers addressed the safety position in free agency. Now we know exactly who will be lining up next to Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary.

On March 14th, the Steelers signed veteran safety DeShon Elliott, according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report.

Pittsburgh gets the starting-caliber safety on a two-year $6 million deal ($3 million per season). In an overcrowded safety market, this feels like a steal for a quality player like Elliott.

The veteran safety was originally drafted in the 6th round by the Ravens in 2018. After four seasons in Baltimore, Elliott joined the Detroit Lions in 2022 on a one-year contract before. He later inked a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2023.

Elliott never saw the field for a meaningful NFL game as a rookie and he didn't make his first start until his third NFL season. Since then, however, Elliott has started 50 of 51 games he has suited up for. While the veteran missed time with injuries each of the past two seasons, he started 28 games over the past two seasons.

What are the Steelers getting in DeShon Elliott?

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't getting another ballhawk in the secondary to pair with Minkah Fitzpatrick. DeShon Elliott isn't going to wow anyone with his speed or fluid hips in coverage. However, what he lacks in these departments he makes up for with strength, physicality, and the ability to defend the run.

At 6'1'' and 210 pounds with long arms, Elliott looks like a hybrid between a safety and a modern-day linebacker. Physicality will not be an issue that Pittsburgh will have to deal with at the safety position. Elliott is a true bruiser who loves to come downhill and thump the ball carrier in the hole.

According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott's 72.7 PFF grade since 2020 ranks 33rd among all safeties, while his remarkable 83.5 run-defense grade was the 9th-best in the NFL last season.

The former Texas Longhorn doesn't have elite speed, but he can line up all over the field (though he does his best work from the box). Elliott has just three career interceptions and three forced fumbles, so don't expect much when it comes to creating takeaways.

The good news is that Elliott is a remarkable tackler who doesn't let go easily. The physical safety has recorded a whopping 178 tackles over the past two seasons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting far from a Minkah clone in the secondary, but DeShon Elliott should complement Fitzptarick's skillset perfectly. On paper, this is a quality signing at a very affordable price for a starting safety.