ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has predicted that free agent offensive tackle Russell Okung will sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers on an estimated one-year, $6.5 million deal next month.
“I’m stunned that Okung hasn’t yet signed a contract, given that he’s the last useful left tackle standing on the open market in a league where a handful of competitive teams still need to lock down their quarterback’s blindside,” Barnwell wrote.
After letting former starter Alejandro Villanueva walk in free agency, the Steelers are pushing forward with Zach Banner on the right and Chukwuma Okorafor on the left as their starting tackles. Barnwell believes an improvement can be made and that Okung is the best option available for Pittsburgh.
“Ben Roethlisberger would be staring down one of the least imposing sets of starting tackles in the league on paper without an addition,” Barnwell adds. “It might take voidable years or a Dogecoin option to get the deal done, but Okung would be a major upgrade for a team that has one more shot with Roethlisberger.”
Barnwell admits that Okung has had some recent health troubles, but noted he excelled when on the field and expects him to continue to do so.
“Okung missed time with a pulmonary embolism in 2019 and a calf injury last season, but he was a solid left tackle when on the field,” he writes.
An 11-year veteran, Okung was a first round selection of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, where he played the first six seasons of his career. He then spent time with the Broncos, Chargers and Panthers.
Okung won Super Bowl XLVIII with Seattle and has earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods. With nearly 9,000 career snaps under his built, Okung appears to be the perfect veteran presence along Pittsburgh’s new-look offensive line.