The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted free-agent guard Trai Turner for a visit on Friday, according to a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Turner, 28, was released by the Los Angeles Chargers in March. He started nine games for the team at right guard in 2020.
Originally a third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers out of LSU in 2014, Turner was a five-time Pro Bowler for the Panthers from 2014-19. He started 13 or more games in his final five seasons in Carolina and signed a four-contract extension in 2017 worth a guaranteed $20.5 million.
But the Panthers traded Turner to Los Angeles after three seasons in exchange for tackle Russell Okung last March. The Chargers released Turner without a dead cap hit, saving LA more than $11 million.
The Steelers did not enter the offseason appearing to have a need at guard, as the team returns longtime starting right guard David DeCastro and 2020 rookie Kevin Dotson played well in four starts last season and seemed ready to step up at left guard in place of Matt Feiler, who was signed in free agency by the Chargers.
But DeCastro, who suffered a knee injury early in the 2020 season, was not a participant in the team’s three-day minicamp at Heinz Field this week. Head coach Mike Tomlin said that none of the injury issues the cropped during minicamp were significant and that all player absences were excused, but declined to address the specific reason for DeCastro not participating.
According to Pro Football Focus, Turner was one of the worst guards in the NFL last season, grading him at 34.8 overall, ahead of just Shane Lemieux of the New York Giants amongst qualified guards. DeCastro and Dotson were each graded at 66.2, DeCastro’s lowest mark since 2012. He was still selected to his sixth Pro Bowl.
The Steelers have already gone through a good bit of player movement on the offensive line, with center Maurkice Pouncey retiring and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva joining Feiler as free agency departures.
The team drafted center Kendrick Green out of Illinois in the third round and tackle Dan Moore Jr. from Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.