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Steelers Analysis

Steelers Waiting Patiently on Safety Market to Develop



Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent Safety Target Julian Blackmon Indianapolis Cols
Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon runs out of the tunnel before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 17, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers were mostly bystanders on the first day of the tampering period for free agency. After signing Russell Wilson late Sunday night, they sat back and watched other teams spend their cash on opening day. The safety position is one of the spots where the team is highly likely to add to in the near future but the market isn’t quite as robust as it was 24 hours ago.

The headliner thus far was former first-round pick Xavier McKinney inking a four-year deal for up to $68 million while Darnell Savage also secured a three-year deal. Former Ravens safety Geno Stone is bolting for Cincinnati on a two-year contract. Not everyone is changing locations, however. Both Tyrann Mathieu and Alohi Gilman returned to their respective teams on shorter, cheaper terms.

There are some bigger name safety options also still looking for a home. In recent weeks, Jamal Adams and Eddie Jackson were both released and still unsigned. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, the backbone of those great Bills defenses will now be resuming their careers elsewhere. The Steelers are likely looking to go the younger route in an attempt to get faster on the back end but after adding an experienced player in Patrick Peterson last cycle, you can’t completely rule out those options this year early in the process. Even with a couple marquee names already off the board, there are still several enticing options to help improve the secondary.

Kamren Curl

If you Antione Winfield who received the franchise tag from Tampa Bay, Kamren Curl has a good argument for being the best available option at the position. The highly intelligent, jack of all trades defensive back is coming off another strong season for an otherwise lackluster Commanders defense. Curl’s true trump card is his versatility. Throughout the course of the game, you’ll see him play split safety, line up as a centerfield, rotate down into the box and even occasionally moonlight as a dime backer. The turnover production hasn’t been there but at just 25-years old, he’s still on an ascending path with more potential to be unlocked.

Jordan Whitehead

A name that should sound familiar to a lot of folks in the 412 area code, Jordan Whitehead is hitting free agency once again following a season in which he set a career high in interceptions with four. After being drafted by Tampa Bay, he established himself as one of the more physical and feisty run defenders at the position. His role has changed a bit since joining the Jets in 2022, but if anything, it’s only helped his value. He’s short area burst and ability to close on oncoming throws stands out on film and he’s still a pest near the line of scrimmage. His size brings limitations as a tackler and against bigger targets but he’s a very quality starter and someone that Pittsburgh should check in on for a reasonable price.

RELATED: ESPN: Jordan Whitehead Perfect Free Agency Fit for Steelers

Julian Blackmon

After having some issues staying healthy in previous seasons, Julian Blackmon was able to stay on the field and put it all together in a contract year. He spent his first three seasons primarily playing in the post before the Colts coaching staff moved him closer to the line of scrimmage in 2023, aiming to get him around the football more to take advantage of his playmaking ability. Blackmon rewarded them with four interceptions and a low missed tackle rate. If you’re looking for an interchangeable safety who can do a little bit of everything, Blackmon has plenty of value. While deploying near the box sprung a career year, it’s worth wondering if that’s the best course of action for his long term health, however.

Best of the rest:

Jordan Fuller (Rams)

C.J. Gardner-Johnson (Lions)

Deshon Elliott (Dolphins)

Mike Edwards (Chiefs)

Jeremy Chinn (Panthers)

RELATED: Bell: Steelers Top Needs Entering Free Agency