Steelers Defender Seen as ’Sneaky-Good’ Free Agent Option for 2023

Mike Tomlin Steelers sideline

Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on August 20, 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line could look significantly different next season. For one, 2022 3rd-round pick DeMarvin Leal is likely to take on a starting role. The Steelers could also look to the draft and/or free agency to address the nose tackle position, especially since Tyson Alualu seems headed for retirement and Montravius Adams is scheduled to reach free agency after next season.

Meanwhile, both Larry Ogunjobi and Chris Wormley are pending unrestricted free agents, with the latter of the two recently included on Bleacher Report’s list of 8 “sneaky-good” free agents that figure to be in demand as bargain/value acquisitions come the spring of 2023.

Chris Wormley Had 7 Sacks in 2021

Never mind that Wormley has recorded just 22 tackles this year, “which is why the 29-year-old is flying into the offseason under the radar,” writes Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, before arguing that Wormley’s ability to play both inside and outside makes him more valuable than his 2022 stats suggest.

“Wormley has seen his defensive snap percentage dip from 71 percent in 2021 to 41 percent this season thanks, in part, to the offseason addition of Larry Ogunjobi,” says Knox, explaining why the sixth-year vet isn’t producing the numbers he did last year, when he started 14 games and had seven sacks and 18 quarterback pressures to go along with 51 tackles, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.

Yet he hasn’t seen any slippage in his Pro Football Focus grades. In fact, he boasts a 69.8 overall grade this season as compared to 68.3 in 2021.

“If he can flash a little bit of the playmaking ability he showcased a year ago, some team will gobble him up knowing that it’s getting a bargain,” concludes Knox.

Wormley is on a 2-Year, $4.5 Million Contract

There’s also the possibility that the Steelers will want to retain Wormley for another year or two, though not at the $2.3 million salary he’s earning this season on a two-year deal valued at $4.5 million, as per

If that’s the case, he’ll get a chance to build on the 1,150 defensive snaps he has played for the Steelers thus far, including a career high 729 in 2021.

Recall that Wormley came to the Steelers in a rare AFC North trade with the Ravens, coming over in 2020 at the cost of a 5th-round pick.

The Michigan product made minimal impact during his first season in Pittsburgh, slowed by a midseason knee injury suffered against the Tennessee Titans. In 13 games he registered just eight tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits while playing only 14% of the snaps on defense.

Nevertheless, in March 2021 Pittsburgh signed him for two more years, leading to his career best season last year.

To date, Wormley has played in 38 games for the Steelers (with 16 starts), having been credited with 81 tackles (43 solo), including 10 tackles for loss, eight sacks, 13 quarterback hits, three passes defensed and one forced fumble.

He entered the league in 2017 when the Baltimore Ravens selected him in the third round (No. 74 overall).

Knox has included one other player from the AFC North on his list, namely Cincinnati Bengals safety Vonn Bell.