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Potential Steelers Safety Target Re-Signs with Colts

Potential Pittsburgh Steelers safety target Julian Blackmon is re-signing with the Indianapolis Colts on a one-year deal.



Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent Safety Target Julian Blackmon Indianapolis Cols
Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon runs out of the tunnel before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 17, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Potential Pittsburgh Steelers safety target Julian Blackmon is re-signing with the Indianapolis Colts on a one-year deal, according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report. Blackmon could have come to the Steelers as safety depth, including with significant experience in the slot, but it was made far less likely after the team signed DeShon Elliott.

If there was a safety made to play next to Minkah Fitzpatrick, Blackmon passes that test with flying colors. In his first three years in the NFL, Blackmon stuck it out as a single-high safety in a Cover 3 scheme, rarely coming down to play in the box or the slot. But last season, the Colts finally breached that, and Blackmon played over half of his snaps between the box and slot. He can do, and his ability to move around the football field is exactly what the Steelers need to pair with someone like Fitzpatrick, who became far too boxed into one spot a season ago.

Pittsburgh used Fitzpatrick in the slot and box more than they probably would have liked in 2023. While he is elite in that area, his range and ball skills call for him to do more than play down in the box and bang around with physicality. Bringing in someone like Blackmon to help alleviate the stress of Fitzpatrick condensing too many roles, mainly if Damontae Kazee sticks around on top of that, would have been a significant addition to the Steelers defense. Unlocking Fitzpatrick is a must, and Blackmon could have done that.

But Elliott does much of the same things. He played more at free safety than strong safety a year ago, logging over 500 snaps at free safety but over 200 snaps at strong safety. In addition, Elliott played 97 snaps in the slot. This should allow for some continuity to be built across the safety corps, as Elliott seems likely to be paired with Fitzpatrick on the back end of the defense and can allow Fitzpatrick to work at free safety as well as strong safety.

And the team can trust Elliott to man down in the slot or box as an excellent run-down safety. He was fifth in missed tackle percentage, while Fitzpatrick was second. In other words, the Steelers have an elite safety-tackling duo. And part of that will at least, in part, help strengthen a run defense that failed to hold up on the back end too often. Teams would run outside the tackles, attack the cornerbacks, or force the safeties to be the fill defender and wrap up, but outside of Fitzpatrick, they often did not find success doing that.