The Pittsburgh Steelers were very active in free agency on Saturday. First the team signed unrestricted free agent safety Miles Killebrew, clawing him away from the Detroit Lions. Hours later, Mike Garafolo, reporter for NFL Network, revealed that the Steelers are also adding Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard/tackle Joe Haeg.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 20, 2021
Haeg—6-foot-6 and 298 pounds—is most famous for almost catching a touchdown pass from Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady during Super Bowl LV last month.
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As such, Haeg might conceivably take over for Zach Banner as the team’s next tackle eligible—and also compete with Banner for the privilege of going out on the occasional pass route. That doesn’t figure to sit well with Banner, who has a history of reacting with mock outrage when he doesn’t receive recognition for his pass-catching potential. You may recall that Banner was incredulous when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass in the direction of fellow offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins during a game this past December. Banner—recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered during the season-opener last year—watched helplessly from his couch as the pass sailed high over Hawkins’ head.
Joe Haeg’s NFL Journey
In all seriousness, though, Haeg has the potential to be a valuable addition to Pittsburgh’s offensive line group, as he provides more position flexibility than any other lineman currently on the roster.
Haeg was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft (No. 155 overall) after playing his college football at North Dakota State. The Minnesota native made 35 starts in 55 games with the Colts, but moved on to Tampa Bay last year, where he started three contests. For what it’s worth, the Bucs paid him $2.3 million last year, with a $1.55 million salary and $750,000 signing bonus.
The Steelers have not officially announced the deal, nor have contract specifics been disclosed.
Steelers Free Agency Scorecard
Yet it seems another free agency win for a team that seemed destined to be decimated by unrestricted free agent defections.
While the Steelers have lost key free agents like outside linebacker Bud Dupree (Tennessee Titans), offensive lineman Matt Feiler (Los Angeles Chargers), slot cornerback Mike Hilton (Cincinnati Bengals) and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu (Jacksonville Jaguars), the club has retained more UFAs than expected.
The next shoe to drop might be news relating to starting cornerback Steven Nelson, who has been given permission to seek a trade. It’s an idea that seems to appeal to Nelson, who has since tweeted the following message:
BLESSING IN DISGUISE
— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) March 19, 2021
More notably, he also retweeted a post from Pro Football Focus noting that he is PFF’s 11th-highest rated cornerback in the NFL over the course of the past two seasons.
Steelers have granted permission to starting CB Steven Nelson to seek a trade, per @AdamSchefter
Nelson: 78.1 PFF Grade since 2019 (T-11th) pic.twitter.com/rYHVXrUBu1
— PFF (@PFF) March 19, 2021
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