Steelers Insider Predicts Possible ‘Reunion’ With Former $21 Million Free Agent

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin

Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 9, 2022.

Two years ago the Pittsburgh Steelers lost versatile offensive lineman Matt Feiler in free agency, when the former Bloomsburg University product signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. But according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the Steelers might soon make an effort to bring him back to Pittsburgh, if he is released by the Chargers, as expected.

“Feiler is still under contract, but word out of Los Angeles is that he could be part of a salary-cap purge. That would be ideal for the Steelers,” offered Kaboly on March 8, before noting that the Chargers are way over the cap and Feiler is scheduled to be paid a $6.5 million salary in 2023, too pricey for a lineman who is approaching 31 and coming off a down year.

“The Steelers are looking to get more consistent at left guard, and Feiler could push Kevin Dotson at a relatively good price,” says Kaboly. Better yet, Feiler can play all five positions on the offensive line, making him attractive option in terms of adding depth.

The Steelers Tried to Re-Sign Matt Feiler in 2021

Recall that the Steelers prioritized re-signing Feiler when he reached unrestricted free agency in 2021, but weren’t willing to pay him an average of $7 million per year, as the Chargers chose to do.

Now, it would be quite a surprise if Los Angeles kept Feiler for the third and final season of his contract, as his $8.5 million cap hit would be the 11th highest on the team in 2023, a shade more than starting quarterback Justin Herbert.

And while Feiler started all 17 games for the Chargers last season, his play declined as compared to 2021, with his Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade falling from 74.0 to 53.3. His run blocking was especially problematic, dropping from an impressive 78.5 in 2021 all the way to 49.0.

Yet Feiler has always been durable and reliable, starting 40 of the 45 games he played for the Steelers from 2017-20, having first earned a roster spot in 2017 after spending two seasons on the practice squad. Before that he spent a year on the practice squad of the Houston Texans, who signed him as a rookie undrafted free agent in May 2014.

Ex-Steelers Bud Dupree, Josh Dobbs Are UFAs

Notably, Matt Feiler isn’t the only ex-Steelers player who could conceivably reunite with his old team. A recent report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network indicated that the Tennessee Titans are planning to part ways with former Steelers 1st-round pick Bud Dupree, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with Tennessee in March 2021.

Also coming available again is former Steelers backup quarterback Josh Dobbs, who started two games for the Titans at the tail end of last season after Tennessee signed him off Detroit’s practice squad in Dec. 2022.

A less likely candidate to return to Pittsburgh is former Steelers 3rd-round pick Javon Hargrave, who recently completed the three-year contract he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020. Hargrave spent the first four years of his NFL career in Pittsburgh, starting 52 of the 63 games in which he appeared, recording 168 total tackles, including 46 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits.