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Is a Mason Cole Reunion the Answer for the Steelers?

If the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t find the answer through the NFL Draft is the answer for the team Mason Cole?



Pittsburgh Steelers Mason Cole
Steelers center Mason Cole against the Indianapolis Colts, Dec. 17, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

With the free agent market pretty much dried up now, many are wondering what are the Pittsburgh Steelers doing at center. Sure, they can select a blue chip center like Jackson Powers-Johnson of Oregon, Graham Barton of Duke, or Zach Frazier of West Virginia in the draft, but they still need a suitable backup. Guard Nate Herbig is center-capable, but he only has 49 career snaps at the position in the regular season.

With the paper-thin depth at center, could a Mason Cole reunion possibly be in the cards? Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks so.

“The Steelers think Mason Cole would be a very good backup. So, yes, I would,” Dulac said when asked during a recent Q&A if he would bring Cole back.

The Steelers made the unusual move of releasing Cole in the middle of the offseason , as part of a four-man cleansing of the Pittsburgh roster by general manager Omar Khan that went beyond the usual salary compliance.

Khan wanted to give Cole a head start in free agency, but he has yet to land with another team. Given Cole’s performance in 2023, it’s not surprising that he’s still a free agent. He had one of the worst overall Pro Football Focus grades for a center last season, as he struggled mightily in pass protection and consistently had poor snaps.

It makes sense to move on from Cole, but the team could have a doomsday scenario where he could be the best option on the market. The center free agency market is desolate. If it comes down to it, a Cole reunion for the purpose of having someone there might have to be thought about, at least. Other than that, Nick Gates and Brian Allen are still out there, too, but none of these guys knock your socks off as options.

Cole might be a good depth option, but would he want to return and serve as a backup? I think Cole would rather have a change of scenery, but it’s possible if the Steelers are the only team that wants him.

Cole was a third-round pick in 2018 by the Arizona Cardinals and started all 16 games in his rookie season. Cole was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He spent one season in Minnesota before playing the last two seasons in Pittsburgh.