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Possible Center Option Cody Whitehair Lands with Las Vegas

Another free agent center option came off the board as the Pittsburgh Steelers did not land Cody Whitehair in free agency.



Pittsburgh Steelers Cody Whitehair
Cody Whitehair of the Chicago Bears runs out of tunnel for a game against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 30, 2019. -- Alexander Jonesi

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a little more than a week away from the 2024 NFL Draft, and the team has still not signed a starting center in free agency. Instead, they have looked towards the draft and seem to have a firm commitment to Nate Herbig as the backup and competition at the position.

And another option came off the board before the NFL Draft, as the Las Vegas Raiders inked Cody Whitehair. Whitehair is a polished veteran who has played guard and center and only comes cheap at around $3 million. He has started over 100 games in his career, so it would have made sense at least as a cheap stopgap, but instead, the team will move forward toward the draft with the center as a gaping hole.

Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson, Duke’s Graham Barton, West Virginia’s Zach Frazier and Georgia’s Sedrick Van Pran are all considered first or second-day draft picks. In free agency, guys like Brian Allen and Nick Gates lead the way.

Tomlin made it clear that the leadership responsibilities of the center position won’t hold him back from starting a youngster at that spot, if that’s the way the Steelers end up leaning.

“I think it can be (a leadership position),” Tomlin said. “But it’s not as much of a requirement as you can say the quarterback discussion.”

Herbig has played only 49 snaps at center in his entire career. That leaves them in a tough spot. Either they must get a center, or try to ride an inexperienced player like Herbig at that spot. But Herbig has earned support from Tomlin and Khan throughout the offseason. Like this quote from Khan at the NFL Combine.

“Right now, we have Nate Herbig,” Khan said. “I always talk about offensive linemen that have position flexibility. That’s always been important to me. We have offensive linemen that are center-capable. But that’s not to say that we’re not going to take a look in free agency and the trade market and the draft process. There’s some good players at every one of those. We feel good about the center draft. We feel good about the center free agents.”

So, while guys like Whitehair get plucked off the market, the Steelers are running forward with the plan at center, likely to add one through the NFL Draft at some point early.