Steelers Projected to Likely Re-Sign Former Released Starter

Patrick Peterson

Getty Steelers Depot's Jonathan Heitritter argued that "there's a good chance" the Pittsburgh Steelers will re-sign one of their released starters.

Under general manager Omar Khan, the Pittsburgh Steelers have tended to sign more free agents than they did in previous years but move on from those signings when they don’t work. This offseason, the Steelers prematurely ended contracts with four players they added in free agency, including 3-time All-Pro Patrick Peterson.

But Steelers Depot’s Jonathan Heitritter argued on June 2 that “there’s a good chance” the Steelers re-sign one of their former players prior to training camp. Heitritter considered Peterson the most likely ex-Steelers player to return.

“With no clear-cut starting option in the nickel for Pittsburgh at this point in the offseason, there’s a chance that Peterson could be brought back on a team-friendly deal to contribute there as well as continue to provide the leadership presence to the team’s secondary after being a mentor to the likes of CB Joey Porter Jr. last season,” wrote Heitritter.

The Steelers Depot writer isn’t the only one who considers a Steelers-Peterson reunion a decent possibility. Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox named the Steelers one of the top two best fits for Peterson on June 1.

“A return to Pittsburgh would make sense, assuming the Steelers are willing to keep him at cornerback,” wrote Knox.

“Pittsburgh traded for Donte Jackson this offseason, but it doesn’t exactly have a glut of depth behind Jackson and Joey Porter Jr.”

In his only season with the Steelers last year, Peterson posted 42 combined tackles with 11 pass defenses and 2 interceptions.

Other than Peterson, Heitritter named fellow cornerbacks Chandon Sullivan and Cameron Sutton as potential return candidates. Heitritter also mentioned edge rusher Markus Golden and center Mason Cole.

Could CB Patrick Peterson Return to the Steelers?

Since the end of the offseason quarterback drama, most of the focus around the Steelers has been on the potential for the team to add a receiver. But the secondary is another area where Pittsburgh could use additional depth.

As Knox noted, the Steelers acquired Donte Jackson in a trade from the Carolina Panthers. But the only other notable addition the team made at cornerback was Texas’ Ryan Watts in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL draft.

Depth cornerbacks Cory Trice Jr. and Darius Rush could play a bigger role this fall. There was also some initial excitement around undrafted free agent cornerback Beanie Bishop Jr.

Rush and Bishop are candidates for playing time in the slot. But it would still make sense for the Steelers to add Peterson again for additional insurance in the slot and outside.

Peterson isn’t against a return either.

“We’ve still got time left on the table,” said Peterson while appearing on ‘The Jim Rome Show’ on May 21. “Hopefully I can get something done with the Steelers. That’s the team that I definitely want to play for because I have so much respect for Coach Tomlin.”

Peterson isn’t the player he once was. While he’s made eight Pro Bowls, he hasn’t earned a Pro Bowl nomination since 2018.

But in the right situation, Peterson could potentially still add valuable veteran experience.

Other Former Steelers Who Could Return

Heitritter didn’t put all his eggs in the Peterson basket. He argued Sullivan or Sutton could come back to Pittsburgh as well.

“Another name that Pittsburgh could consider bringing back at slot cornerback is CB Chandon Sullivan who is still a free agent and could be signed to a cheap contract to give the team another slot-capable defender,” wrote Heitritter. “A wildcard to keep in-mind throughout the offseason is former Steelers CB Cameron Sutton who signed a contract with the Detroit Lions last offseason, but was released by Detroit after getting arrested in March for aggravated battery-domestic violence.

“He was later released from jail and had his charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, and is currently in a pre-trial diversion program.”

Knox likes the idea of Cole returning to Pittsburgh. Knox named the Steelers one of the two best fits for the veteran center.

“The Steelers drafted Zach Frazier in the second round to replace Cole,” wrote Knox. “However, if Frazier doesn’t develop as quickly as Pittsburgh had hoped, a reunion would make plenty of sense.”

Heitritter considers Cole a “less likely” candidate to return. But Heitritter also named Golden as a possibility.

Golden had 4 sacks, 6 tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits in 16 games last season.

The Steelers could re-sign Golden in case T.J. Watt or Alex Highsmith suffer a serious injury. But if Pittsburgh only brings back one of their former players, Peterson probably makes the most sense.

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