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Steelers DT Dean Lowry Couldn’t Wait to Play for a Defensive Head Coach

Veteran defensive tackle Dean Lowry chose the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency to get to play for Mike Tomlin.



Steelers Dean Lowry
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Dean Lowry during OTAs on May 28, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers look to have rounded out their defensive line rotation for the 2024 season when they signed eight-year vet Dean Lowry earlier this offseason. Coming off of a season ending injury, Lowry, an experienced player in this league, had his options when it came to choosing his next team. When it came to decide where he wanted to play, he took a few factors into consideration and Pittsburgh checked the boxes.

“There is a lot of good players in this defense and it is a proven system,” Lowry told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now. “It is nice to play for a defensive head coach who really values some of things that we talk about every single day. It’s been, I would say, a smooth transition so far.”

Coming from Minnesota, Lowry became familiar with some of the terminology that he will learn with the Steelers due to the connection with Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Flores served as a Senior Defensive Assistant with the Steelers in 2022 before accepting the Vikings job offer in 2023.

“There is some similar terminology but I would say a little bit more different,” Lowry said. “Their system in Minnesota was definitely more blitz heavy. This one is just not quite as much so. There is always different carryovers between defenses but the big thing is getting the coaching points and the nuances of what they emphasis here and making it a part of your everyday play.”

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Jacob Slade Dean Lowry

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive linemen Jacob Slade and Dean Lowry during minicamp on June 12, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Lowry is a seasoned veteran but as he enters a position room that is stacked with talent, young and old, he will have to fight for snaps. Lowry is aware of this and has embraced the challenge.

“I would say it is a deep room, no question about it,” Lowry said. “We come out here and compete every single day. We are all cheering for each other and helping each other and trying to get better. But, it definitely is a deep room and a nice mix of young talent and veterans.”

Players with as much experience as Lowry do not sign up for immense competition but Lowry sees an opportunity to contribute and win with the Steelers.

“There is a lot of new guys,” Lowry explained. “You can look offensively, look at some of the pieces they added. Defensively, there is a lot of proven guys on this defense and we added we’ve added a few pieces. This team has been close, obviously they have been a playoff team, been consistent winners and we are aiming to keep inching further or just keep adding onto that.”

With the defensive line starters essentially solidified, Lowry is looking at a rotational role in 2024. Since the Steelers listed Lowry as a defensive tackle, he is pitted against two guys that received starting snaps a season ago in Montravius Adams and Keeanu Benton. While he is unlikely to leap-frog either of those guys, Lowry can be a nice depth piece for the team.

94 • Dean Lowry, Defensive Tackle, Northwestern
6-foot-6, 296 pounds, 30 years old, 9th Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Lowry as an unrestricted free agent in early April. He agreed on a two-year contract to come to Pittsburgh.

Last seasonThe Minnesota Vikings signed Lowry to a two-year deal last March. He played nine games for Minnesota before suffering a pectoral injury on Nov. 19 that ended his season. He was released by the Vikings on March 12.

In his nine games with the team, Lowry started four of them. He recorded 12 combined tackles and defended one pass.

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Dean Lowry

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Dean Lowry (94) stretches on the field before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Career: Dean Lowry, 29, is entering his ninth NFL season, seven of which were played with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Lowry became a starter in his second season with the Packers in 2017 and maintained at least a co-starting role through the 2022 season.

Lowry has five seasons with at least two sacks but the last time that it had occurred was in 2021 when had his most impactful season. He played in and started all 17 games as he recorded five sacks in addition to 42 tackles and five tackles for loss. He also had four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Over his first eight seasons, Lowry has started 84 of his 120 career games. To this point, he has recorded 244 total tackles, 15.5 sacks, 17 passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble.

Year Team GP GS Tackles Sacks PDs FFs PFF Rating
2023 MIN 9 4 12 0 1 0 47.4
2022 GB 15 12 37 0.5 1 0 59.3
2021 GB 17 17 38 5 4 0 67.0
2020 GB 16 16 34 3 2 0 57.3
2019 GB 16 16 46 0 3 0 62.3
2018 GB 16 8 39 3 3 1 72.6
2017 GB 16 11 31 2 2 0 68.7
2016 GB 15 0 7 2 1 0 69.2

CollegeAfter arriving to Northwestern in 2012, Dean Lowry was one of four freshman to earn playing time. He played in a rotational defensive end role and appeared in all 13 games. Lowry made an impact as a true freshman, posting three tackles for loss and a sack, which led him to be named to the ESPN All-Big Ten Freshman team.

Lowry earned a starting role the following season as he started in nine of his 11 appearances. He finished tied for second on the team with seven tackles for loss and third with 4.5 sacks. Additionally, he snagged two interceptions and forced two fumbles.

By the 2014 season, Lowry was a full-time starting defensive end for the Wildcats. He earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors following the season. Then in 2015, Lowry was a consensus All-Big Ten Second-Team honoree. As a senior, he posted career-high with 13.5 tackles for loss. He helped lead the way for a Wildcats team that finished first in scoring defense.

In his collegiate career, Lowry started 34 games but appeared in 49 games overall in just four years.

Year GP GS Tackles TFLs Sacks INTs PDs FF FR
2012 13 0 14 3 1 0 1 0 1
2013 11 9 33 7 4.5 2 5 2 1
2014 12 12 41 8 4 0 8 1 0
2015 13 13 52 13.5 3 1 7 0 1

Salary cap and future: The Steelers signed Dean Lowry to a two-year contract in early April. The two-year deal is worth $5 million in total. Lowry will cost $1.875 million against the Steelers’ cap space in 2024. He is entering the season at 30-years-old and if he does not perform well, the Steelers could release him before next season and save $1.875 million.

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