Steelers Connected to Projected $22 Million Offensive Starter

Mike Tomlin Connor Williams

Getty Pro Football Focus' Brad Spielberger named the Pittsburgh Steelers the best landing spot for free agent center Connor Williams.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a hole right in the middle of their offensive line. For that reason, the Steelers could be an ideal fit for free agent center Connor Williams.

At least that’s what Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger argued on March 28. Spielberger called the Steelers the best landing spot for the 26-year-old interior offensive lineman.

“Williams started his career with the Dallas Cowboys at left guard and blossomed in Miami at center, thriving as a run blocker in Mike McDaniel’s zone blocking scheme, where he was able to quickly get to the second level and lead the way,” Spielberger wrote. “While he doesn’t have the world’s strongest anchor in a phone booth, his fast first step off the line enables him to seal off defenders on the backside of runs by getting in position.

“Williams suffered a torn ACL in Week 14, which has impacted his market.”

PFF ranked Williams the top center in free agency this offseason. But he remains unsigned perhaps because of his injury.

PFF, who also rated Williams the No. 38 overall free agent this offseason, projected the veteran to be worth $22.5 million on a 3-year deal. PFF also predicted Williams to receive $12.5 million guaranteed with a $7.5 million average annual salary.

Williams started 26 games in two seasons for the Miami Dolphins. In four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, he started 51 contests.

Why the Steelers are a ‘Best Landing Spot’ for Connor Williams

The Steelers may be an ideal fit for Williams schematically. But the main reason the veteran interior lineman could be a target for Pittsburgh is because the Steelers don’t have a center on their current roster.

Pittsburgh released starting center Mason Cole without an obvious replacement on the roster.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned backup guard Nate Herbig as a potential internal option at center while speaking to reporters at the annual league meeting in Orlando, Florida. The team’s depth chart at has Herbig currently listed as the team’s No. 1 center.

Steelers general manager Omar Khan suggested trading for a center as a possibility.

“All options there are still on the table,” Khan told reporters in Orlando, via Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh. “There are still some players out there that are free agents. You know, there might be some trade opportunities and there’s the draft.”

If the Steelers choose the free agent route to add a center, Williams is easily the top choice remaining. He is the only center ranked among the top available free agent interior linemen still unsigned.

The Cowboys drafted Williams at No. 50 overall in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. He’s started at least nine games in all six of his NFL seasons.

Do the Steelers Plan to Draft a Center?

Williams is the best center fit for the Steelers in free agency. But signing Williams to a 3-year contract worth $22.5 million would mean the Steelers very likely don’t draft a center.

Finding a long-term solution at center in the draft may be what the Steelers prefer to do. NFL mock drafts have often linked Pittsburgh to Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson and West Virginia center Zach Frazier this offseason.

Duke’s Graham Barton is also another potential early center target. Barton performed very well at his pro day on March 28.

The Steelers could still use depth in addition to a top rookie center. But that depth should agree to sign for a cheaper contract than what Williams will likely receive.

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