Steelers Encouraged to Target Former First-Round Pick

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are being urged to target linebacker Rashaan Evans in NFL free agency.

The Pittsburgh Steelers may have been as active this offseason as any in their entire history. But that doesn’t mean general manager Omar Khan couldn’t make one more move.

Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger argued that “one piece of business” the Steelers should still strongly consider doing is signing inside linebacker Rashaan Evans.

“Free agency addition Cole Holcomb is primarily a Mike linebacker but has experience at the Will spot, which is also the situation for Evans, who was taken in the first round after a stellar Alabama career generally lining up on the weak side,” Spielberger wrote. “However they’re ultimately aligned, both players have experience across the formation and should work well together behind a stout defensive line.

“Pittsburgh needs to be better against the run in 2023, especially as they battle with a tough schedule that could build early leads against them. Evans can make a difference.”

Evans set new career highs in tackles and snaps played with the Atlanta Falcons last season. He posted 159 combined tackles, including 6 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hits and 2 sacks.

How Rashaan Evans Could Fit With the Steelers

Spielberger has connected the Steelers to Evans in free agency practically since the end of the NFL draft. On May 9, Spielberger labeled adding Evans the last offseason move the Steelers should make.

The PFF analyst doubled down on that again with his latest analysis despite the fact Pittsburgh signed veteran inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski on June 19.

The Steelers have six inside linebackers on the roster, but not a ton of experience behind projected starters Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. Kwiatkoski is Pittsburgh’s only depth inside linebacker who’s played at least 100 defensive snaps at the NFL level.

Bringing in Evans would be Khan’s way of grabbing insurance for the middle of Pittsburgh’s defense in case Holcomb or Roberts sustain a significant injury.

Spielberger has been on the Steelers signing Evans bandwagon this offseason, but Pittsburgh’s interest in the former Alabama linebacker may date back to the 2018 NFL draft.

Steelers author James C. Wexell tweeted that former Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert tried to trade up for Evans in the first round of the 2018 draft. But the Tennessee Titans grabbed him at No. 22 overall. The Steelers stayed at No. 28 and selected safety Terrell Edmunds.

Other Potential LB Options for the Steelers

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Chris Carter and WPXI-TV’s Jenna Harner held the same take as Spielberger that the Steelers still have a hole at inside linebacker. While making a guest appearance on the Locked on Steelers Podcast, which Carter hosts, Harner called the inside linebackers the “most incomplete position group” on the Steelers roster.

But Carter disagreed with Spielberger on how to address the group. While he mentioned Evans as one of his top 5 options for Khan to complete the team’s roster, Carter also named three players he considered better options for the Steelers at inside linebacker.

“He’s a free agent right now. He wouldn’t cost you much. He’s 28 years old,” Carter said of Evans. “But he would kind of fit the role that the other linebackers do on their roster right now. He’s a run stopper first, which is kind of why he’s sitting around in free agency at this point.”

Carter added that Evans is an option to sign because he would be an upgrade over Mark Robinson and the other inexperienced inside linebackers the Steelers possess.

But Carter also called Kwon Alexander and Deion Jones superior free agency options at linebacker because of their ability to help the Steelers in pass defense. Lastly, Carter named Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons an option if the Steelers are willing to trade for an inside linebacker upgrade.

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