The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to sign free agent linebacker Genard Avery to a one-year contract, according to a report by Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio. Terms of the contract were not reported.
Avery, 26, spent the last three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He became a regular starter for the first time in his career in 2021, when he started 12 games for the Eagles. Avery and 43 tackles and had one sack. He started out at defensive end before moving to strong-side outside linebacker in the Eagles’ 4-3 scheme.
Originally a fifth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft and spent his first two seasons in Cleveland. His NFL debut came against the Steelers in 2018, and he had a strip sack and four tackles in the game. The Eagles traded a 2021 fourth-round pick for Avery in the middle of the 2019 season.
In Pittsburgh, Avery could slot in as either the Buck inside linebacker position or stay at outside linebacker. Most 4-3 outside linebackers would play 3-4 inside linebacker, while 4-3 defensive ends are 3-4 outside linebackers, but Avery’s history playing both roles leaves his true position with the Steelers in question.
The team is especially thin at outside linebacker, where Derrek Tuszka is the lone backup with Steelers experience behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Avery would immediately replace the veteran experience the team lost at the spot when Kevin Colbert gave in to Melvin Ingram’s trade request in the middle of last season.
Inside, the Steelers seem more set, with new free agent Myles Jack expected to slot alongside returning starter Devin Bush. Restricted free agents Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen were both tendered and Ulysees Gilbert III and Buddy Johnson remain depth options.
Avery has also been a regular on special teams. He played 63% of the Eagles’s special teams snaps in 2019, despite only dressing for eight games, and played over a quarter of the special teams snaps over the last two seasons, even as his role in the defense increased.