Steelers should be first in line to sign this noteable veteran linebacker

Linebacker is quietly a big need for Pittsburgh, and this player would be a prefect fit in 2024.

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins
Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of positions that they will explore during the 2024 free-agency period. Performances in 2023 made it clear that offensive tackle, center, and cornerback are among the biggest positions of need, and Omar Khan is expected to spend resources in free agency and the draft to make significant improvements.

In addition to these, linebacker is quietly a big area of need for the Steelers. Khan recently told the media that there is no current timetable for Cole Holcomb to return from the devastating knee injury he sustained in the middle of the 2023 season, while Kwon Alexander -- who is an unrestricted free agent -- is recovering from a ruptured Achilles and won't be ready to go.

This leaves Elandon Roberts as the only healthy, viable option at the position. And that's simply not good enough.

The 2024 free agency class doesn't exactly have an illustrious group of linebackers this year. Younger athletic linebackers like Devin White and Isaiah Simmons have been noticeably inconsistent, while well-balanced players like Eric Kendricks and Bobby Wagner are in their 30s and might not have much left in the tank.

Fortunately, there is one quality linebacker who just became available that would be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers should be first in line to acquire him in free agency.

Steelers should sign LB Jerome Baker

Something Steelers linebackers have always been able to do at a respectful level is come downhill and stuff the run. There have been differing degrees of how effective they have been, but playing well in the box has always been a staple to their defense.

This is something that Elandon Roberts does very well. Unfortunately, every Steelers linebacker struggles in coverage, and a few of them make it look like a chore to play in space.

That's where Jerome Baker comes in.

The Miami Dolphins recently released Baker just ahead of the start of free agency. Now one of the league's better coverage linebackers is on the market. Baker was up and down early in his NFL career, but he has now strung together back-to-back good seasons with the Dolphins.

In 2022, Baker graded out as the 17th-best linebacker in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Though his overall grade dipped a bit in 2023, Baker still earned the 17th-best grade in coverage among all linebackers.

Baker is a good athlete with smooth, fluid hips that help him change directions with ease in space. Coming out of Ohio State in 2018, Baker ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at 229 pounds to go with an impressive 10'6'' broad jump and 36.5'' vertical jump. Simply from a size and athletic standpoint, his most comparable NFL player is Roquan Smith, according to Mockdraftable.

Baker probably wouldn't be a star linebacker for the Steelers, but his ability to cover and operate in space is exactly what this team has been missing.

Perhaps the most important factor is health. Though Baker did miss four games with an injury in 2023, he missed just one game in his previous five seasons. This is going to resonate well with the Steelers.

Pittsburgh can't find themselves in a situation again where players like Myles Jack, Mykal Walker, and Mark Robinson are asked to step into key roles on defense. With the questionable health of Cole Holcomb, this team needs help at linebacker, and Jerome Baker would be a perfect fit with the Steelers.