The Pittsburgh Steelers have agreed to sign former Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday. Terms of the contract were not reported.
Ogunjobi visited the Steelers on Tuesday before agreeing to the contract. He had also recently visited with the New York Jets. Ogunjobi had agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million contract with the Chicago Bears earlier this offseason, but a failed physical scrapped that deal. The Steelers were able to medically evaluate Ogunjobi on his visit.
Ogunjobio, 28, suffered a season-ending foot injury that required in Cincinnati’s wild card playoff game against the Las Vegas Raiders in January. It’s not clear if that injury is the reason for his failed physical.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Ogunjobi had the best statistical season of his career in his one season with the Bengals in 2021. Ogunjobi set career highs with seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. He also recorded 49 total tackles.
He will replace the recently retired Stephon Tuitt as the third starter on the Steelers’ defensive line, along with Cam Heyward and Tyson Alualu.
Originally a third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns out of Charlotte in 2017, Ogunjobi spent the first four seasons of his career with the Browns. He got significant playing time as rookie in 2017 and then assumed a starting role in 2018. He had 14.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and 37 quarterback hits with Cleveland. His best statistical season was in 2018, when he had 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, 52 tackles and a forced fumble.
Even without Tuitt, and Alualu, who missed most of the season with injury, the Steelers had the best pass rush in the NFL, leading the league in sacks, with the play of outside linebacker T.J. Watt leading the way. But the team struggled against the run due to the absences. The Steelers finished 32nd in rushing yards allowed and 32nd in rushing yards per attempt.
Ogunjobi has been an above-average run defender in the past, getting positive marks for time in Cleveland, but his 2021 performance was panned by Pro Football Focus, which gave him a 38.9 rating against the run last season, mostly due to missed tackles.
While players playing for multiple divisional rivals is more common than it once was, Ogunjobi’s entrance to the Steelers locker room could be contentious, thanks to his role in the Steelers-Browns skirmish that resulted in Myles Garrett hitting Mason Rudolph over the head with his helmet in 2019. Ogunjobi later backed Garrett’s assertion that Rudolph set the incident off by using a racial slur. Garrett, Ogunjobi and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey were all suspended from the incident.