Steelers Lose Top Free Agent Target to $50M Guarantee From Bears: Report

Getty One of the Steelers' top free agent targets is off the market.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a linebacker-sized problem, and one of the men projected to solve it is off the market. The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms with former Buffalo Bills first-rounder Tremaine Edmunds, as reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Monday, March 13.

The Bears wasted no time hammering out a four-year, $72 million deal with $50 million guaranteed with the two-time Pro Bowler. The guaranteed portion, 69 percent of its overall value, is the largest four-year contract for an inside linebacker in NFL history, per Rapoport. Edmunds, 24, is expected to sign once free agency officially begins on Wednesday, March 15.

Edmunds started 74 games in his five-year career. In 2022, he logged 102 tackles in 13 games, six tackles for loss, an interception, a sack, and seven passes defended.

The Steelers have two free agents at inside linebacker — Devin Bush and Robert Spillane — who will hit the market on Wednesday. With Myles Jack the only likely starter from the unit, Edmunds was a very attractive player who would’ve served Pittsburgh’s needs to a T.

Bloodlines are endured in Pittsburgh, and with his older brother, safety Terrell Edmunds, expected to re-sign, it would’ve made another set of siblings on the team.

Another prospect for the Steelers, former Philadelphia Eagles‘ inside linebacker T.J. Edwards, has also agreed to terms with the Bears. Maybe two T.J.s is one too many?

Ex-Steelers ILB Vince Williams’ Favorite Inside Linebackers in 2023 NFL Draft

It’s possible the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t look to free agency to fill their inside linebacker vacancy. Former inside linebacker Vince Williams put on his best scout hat and revealed his favorite ILBs of the 2023 NFL draft.

“Henley, Overshown, Simpson and Sanders in that order,” Williams tweeted on March 10.

Williams is titled to his opinion, which should be valued given that he’s played the position. But aside from Sanders (who some have as the No. 1 ILB), his order doesn’t jive with other draftniks.

His top two, Daiyan Henley (Washington State) and DeMarvion Overshown (Texas), are commonly projected as day-two, day-three picks. Steelers Depot’s Jonathan Heitritter gave Henley a fourth-round grade stating, “The big knocking point for me against Henley is his overall lack of physicality. There are several instances in Henley’s tape of him fitting the mantra ‘looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane’.” He’s an extremely raw talent who is not viewed as the top inside linebacker to come off the board. He’s smallish at 6 feet tall, one inch shorter than Williams, the Steelers’ sixth-round pick in 2013, who also had to overcome scouts viewing him as not big enough or fast enough.

Top Inside Linebackers of 2023 NFL Draft Class

The general consensus of the top four inside linebackers (also known as off-ball linebacker) is Arkansas’ Drew Sanders, Iowa’s Jack Campbell, Orgeon’s Noah Sewell and Alabama’s Henry To’o To’o.

Of these four, the Steelers had formal meetings with Sewell, To’o To’o and Sanders at the NFL Scouting Combine. To Williams’ credit, they also met with his favorite other three linebackers.

Mocks are just that, mocks. But in most, none of these top four guys are selected in the first round. If that’s the case in the real draft, the Steelers might just have their pick of the crop at No. 32.

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