Steelers Connected to Former Second-Round Safety

Mike Tomlin

Getty Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox named head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers a potential landing spot for Carolina Panthers safety Jeremey Chinn.

The four safeties currently on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster all began their careers with other teams. But Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox proposed the idea of the Steelers adding yet another safety drafted by a different organization to their roster.

In his weekly trade block big board article, Knox named the Steelers a potential landing spot for Carolina Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn.

“The 25-year-old is an extremely versatile defender who could fill a variety of roles in a defense,” Knox wrote. “He’s also entering the final year of his rookie contract, making him a logical trade chip for the Panthers.”

Knox argued the Steelers could be interested because they have allowed 245.6 passing yards per game, which is ranked 24th in the NFL.

In five games this season, Chinn has posted 23 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and 1 quarterback hit. He also has 1 sack and 1 pass defense.

The Panthers drafted Chinn in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.

How Jeremy Chinn Could Fit With the Steelers

The No. 64 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Chinn has put together a solid career in Carolina despite no accolades or rewards.

In his first two seasons, he posted at least 100 combined tackles, as he was among the leaders on the Panthers defense in tackles. He’s also been decent in coverage, recording 17 pass defenses and 2 interceptions in 47 career games.

As a rookie, he recovered 2 fumbles and returned both for touchdowns.

Chinn didn’t reach 100 tackles again during his third season in 2022, but he only played 11 games because of a hamstring injury during the middle of the campaign.

Pro Football Focus has Chinn ranked 47th among safeties with at least 20% of their team’s snaps this season. While that’s not overly impressive, the PFF grades indicate Chinn has no glaring weakness. He has scored at least average in the PFF grading system in coverage, tackling and run defense.

According to PFF, Chinn is also playing better than any of Pittsburgh’s primarily safeties — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee.

Although he’s never made the Pro Bowl, Chinn finished second to Chase Young for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2020.

Steelers Safety Depth Heading Into Bye Week

On the surface, it’s easy to argue that the Steelers should acquire Chinn for a mid-to-late round draft pick. Then, they could bump the team’s current fourth safety, Miles Killebrew, off the active roster.

But good luck trying to argue that with Steelers fans this week.

Killebrew proved his worth once again in special teams with a blocked punt in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. The block led to a safety, which ignited the Steelers comeback.

Since the start of the 2021 season, Killebrew has blocked 3 punts for the Steelers. All of them were game-altering plays.

So, if the Steelers acquired another safety such as Chinn, they would likely have to be prepared to dedicate a fifth roster spot to safety. Or, they could, theoretically, depart with Kazee or Neal.

Both have struggled. PFF has each ranked outside the top 55 safeties this season. Neal has been particularly bad in tackling according to PFF.

Still, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers casting aside Neal or Kazee, both of whom were signed to new contracts in March.

While Chinn is an interesting potential addition, the easiest path to Pittsburgh improving at safety is having the team’s current safeties performing at a level more reflective of their talent. That includes Fitzpatrick. The 3-time first-team All-Pro has just 2 pass defenses and zero interceptions in five games after leading the NFL in interceptions last season.

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