Steelers Urged to Shop Ex-Offensive Starter on Trade Market to Create Cap Space

Mike Tomlin

Getty's All Steelers' Noah Strackbein argued on January 22 that the Pittsburgh Steelers could explore trade options with right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor.

The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the offseason in a bit of a bind with the NFL salary cap. According to Spotrac, the Steelers are roughly $6.7 million over the expected salary cap for the 2024 season.

The team has some obvious ways it can create some wiggle room with the cap. The Steelers could also get creative, as’s All Steelers’ Noah Strackbein encouraged the organization to do on January 22.

Strackbein argued that the Steelers should attempt to trade former starting right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor.

“The former starter is just 26 years old and has two seasons of experience as their top right tackle,” Strackbein wrote. “Chances are, they can find a suitor for him via trade, landing them a draft pick while creating cap space.”

Trading Okorafor would save the Steelers $8.75 million in cap space.

In six seasons, Okorafor has started 59 games for the Steelers. He started the first seven games of 2023 before losing his job to rookie tackle Broderick Jones.

Chukwuma Okorafor Expendable After Losing Steelers RT Job

According to the Pro Football Focus player grades, Okorafor was playing at about replacement level when Jones replaced him in the starting lineup during Week 9. But the Steelers didn’t bench Okorafor’s because of his play.

The six-year veteran tackle explained to reporters on November 2 that he suddenly lost his job because of a comment he made while the team was losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8.

“It was just something I said,” Okorafor told the media, via’s Chris Adamski, when talking about his benching. “I kind of had a … just the way the game was going last week, I kind of said stuff that I shouldn’t say. I just, being in Year 6, I can’t like act out the way I was acting out.

“I talked to Coach T, we already had our talk, and he said it was nothing to do with (the quality of) my play on the field. It was stuff that happened last week toward the end of the game. I am not sure what is going to happen. We will have to see. Hopefully I can come back and play in another game.”

Okorafor never played more than three snaps in a game again the rest of the season. He didn’t play at all in the team’s postseason matchup versus the Buffalo Bills.

The 26-year-old is under contract for one more season. He is set to have a cap hit of roughly $11.83 million in 2024.

That’s obviously a huge number for a reserve offensive linemen.

Both Jones and left tackle Dan Moore Jr. are also under contract for the 2024 season. Presumably, that means Okorafor will not have a starting role for the Steelers next fall.

Other Ways Steelers Can Create Cap Space

The Steelers aren’t in a great cap situation, but there are no shortage of ways the team could get to a much better spot with the salary cap.

Releasing wide receiver Allen Robinson and quarterback Mitch Trubisky are practical no brainers. If the Steelers released Trubisky post-June 1, the team would save $15.25 million against the cap by parting ways with both Robinson and Trubisky.

Strackbein also argued that cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Keanu Neal and center Mason Cole could be cut.

Releasing Cole would mean the Steelers departing with two of their starting offensive linemen from the beginning of the 2023 season. But Cole significantly struggled this past season. According to PFF’s player grades, Cole was 27th among the league’s 32 starting centers.

If the Steelers traded Okorafor and released Cole, the Steelers could pursue offensive line upgrades in the NFL draft, particularly if they get some draft capital in return for Okorafor in a trade.

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