Connect with us

Steelers News

Steelers Have Obvious Extension Candidate in James Daniels

Pittsburgh Steelers guard James Daniels might be in line for an extension and he could be in line for a huge payday.



James Daniels warms up ahead of Steelers vs. Ravens on Jan. 1, 2023 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just two weeks away from the NFL Draft and still do not have a center option on the roster besides Nate Herbig. But could the need not be at center, but at guard, because the team has plans to move James Daniels to center? It does not seem like it, especially with the value of guards rising.

Omar Khan was asked that at the NFL Combine last month and his answer was not completely clear, but it did not inspire a ton of confidence in that being a legitimate option.

It could, you know, he has position flexibility. But James really had a good season at guard and we were really encouraged by that. We feel like he got better every week,” Khan said.

Daniels has played center in the past, and done it well. Daniels split time between center and guard with the Chicago Bears in 2019. He started both his sophomore and junior year at Iowa at center, and that play is what got him drafted into the NFL. He played well there, but had his best NFL season in 2023 at right guard, meaning that moving him brings clear risk of opening up a hole. 

While moving Daniels from guard to center would simply shift the hole over one spot, the Steelers have more depth at guard, where Herbig is signed as a backup.

But there’s more than meets eye when it comes to Daniels. Once the draft cycle comes to a close, he figures to become a big talking point, with him entering the final season of his contract. At just 27-years old and with uncertainty around him on the offensive line, it only makes sense for him to be their number one extension candidate.

Something to consider in all of this is that the guard market exploded this offseason, with Landon Dickerson and Robert Hunt both fetching contracts that pay out to more than $20 million per year, significantly higher than Daniels’ current contract. That’s great news for the player even if it could make negotiations a bit trickier and definitely more expensive but he’s a good player entering his prime which is worth paying for.

And so, when it comes time to discuss summer extensions, guys like Pat Freiermuth and Cam Heyward will be talked about a lot, but Daniels might be the one who is first on deck for Khan and his staff.