In what has been a busier-than-usual off-season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team signed several free agents to team friendly deals. Two of those signings, James Daniels and Mitch Trubisky, are being hailed as two of the league’s best bargains by NFL experts in a recent ESPN article.
The article asks 12 experts their thoughts on the NFL free agency thus far with one topic being on the bargain deals. NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid named Daniels’ three-year, $26.5 million contract with the Steelers as the best bargain while NFL front office insider Mike Tannenbaum named Trubisky’s two-year, $14.2 million deal as the best.
Going into the off-season, the offensive line and quarterback positions were arguably the top two holes the Steelers needed to fill. It’s expected that both will start, although the team is pushing them as being involved in position battles.
The Steelers have Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green returning to the guard positions, assuming Green is moved back to guard after a disappointing rookie season as the team’s center. They also signed center Mason Cole to a three-year deal, so a position battle on the inside of the line will happen, but it’s expected that Daniels is the front-runner for one of the spots given the amount that the Steelers are paying him.
“Considering his age at the start of the season (25) and experience at both center and guard, it was surprising that the fourth year veteran didn’t demand more on the open market,” said Reid on Daniels. “Signing a three year, $26.5-million deal is great value for the Steelers at a need position. The former second-round pick likely will step in as the starter at right guard, but he is capable of playing any three positions along the interior. That type of versatility should have been coveted by more teams that were searching for interior offensive line help.”
As far as the quarterback position goes, Trubisky is set to compete with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins for the starting spot. The team has notably still been scouting rookies in the lead up to the 2022 NFL Draft. Some mock drafts even have the Steelers trading up to select a quarterback, despite signing Trubisky. Steeler fans should rest easy knowing that if the team doesn’t end up starting Trubisky, they aren’t paying him a starter’s salary.
“Trubisky needs to clean up his red zone interceptions after having eight in Chicago, but even if he plays slightly above average, his deal will be a massive bargain ($7.1 million per year) compared to all of the other recent quarterback deals,” said Tannenbaum on Trubisky. “For instance, how much worse is he really than Kirk Cousins? Cousins just signed an extension that averages $35 million per year.”
NFL analyst Greg Bowen, who was one of three experts that had Juju Smith-Schuster’s one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs deal as the off-season’s best bargain, labeled the Trubisky signing as the most head-scratching.
“In Matt Canada’s offense, the Steelers can set up Trubisky with defined throws off movement and play-action,” said Bowen. “I still have concerns about Trubisky’s ability as a pocket thrower in critical game situations, though — that’s the mechanics and the eyes. Let’s see if Pittsburgh drafts a rookie quarterback to compete with him next month.”
That’s not the most critical take of the Trubisky signing, but he was the only expert who had a Steelers’ deal in the head-scratching column. Interestingly enough, others may scratch their heads if the Steelers were to draft a quarterback in the draft to compete with Trubisky.