Steelers Betting Larry Ogunjobi Can Be Even Better Than 2022
The Pittsburgh Steelers made a half-dozen moves over the first two weeks of free agency to improve their standing as a team heading into the second phase of the 2023 offseason, but the biggest move the team made was to retain one of their own, as the three-year, $28.5 million contract given out to defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi stands as the single largest investment made by Omar Khan and company.
Ogunjobi almost had his big teal last spring, when he agreed to a three year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears. That deal got nixed because Ogunjobi wasn’t fully healthy from the Lisfranc surgery that ended his 2021 season.
In 2022, the Lisfranc injury didn’t keep him from playing, but a laundry list of maladies kept Ogunjobi from being a consistent participant in Steelers practices, and while he only missed one game, he ended up playing just 636 snaps, far less than defensive line running mate Cam Heyward’s 801.
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Between the offseason that was disrupted by the injury and the continual minor issues that he dealt with throughout 2022, the Steelers are betting that the version of Ogunjobi they got last year is not the very best he has to offer.
“I think that’s a perspective that I have,” head coach Mike Tomlin said at the NFL Annual Meeting on Sunday. “I think that’s a perspective that he has. I think that makes both of us excited about his return and what that means.
“I just think that there’s a benefit in him being here and knowing what to expect and having been a lap around the track and going into an offseason where he’s not rehabilitating, coming off a surgery is an exciting prospect.”
The Steelers likely have more work to do along the defensive line, as 2022 regulars Tyson Alualu and Chris Wormley both remain free agents, but the big job was locking up someone to play alongside Heyward in the team’s usual four-man Nickel and Dime front.