‘Genius Move’ Sees Steelers Signing Recently Cut Pass Rusher

Mike Tomlin

Getty The Steelers could sign free agent linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could fortify their pass rush with a recently released veteran.

According to Tim Benz of Tribune-Review Sports, the Steelers could be in the running for outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu was recently released by the Chicago Bears and is coming off of a torn pectoral muscle that limited him to just five games last season.

Benz explained that Attaochu could provide a steady presence for a Steelers defense suddenly lacking in depth beyond T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

“The Steelers remain thin at outside linebacker,” Benz wrote on June 14. “Beyond T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith as the starters, the next wave of players is Genard Avery, Tuzar Skipper, Derek Tuszka and Delontae Scott. That’s a total of 10 sacks between four men.

“Well, another outside linebacker just became available. The Chicago Bears cut Jeremiah Attaochu. He has 20.5 career sacks dating back to 2014. That was his rookie season with the (then) San Diego Chargers. Since then, he has played with the Jets, Broncos and Bears.”

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Why Attaochu Makes Sense for Steelers

The 29-year-old Attaochu has carved out a journeyman career as a pass-rushing specialist since entering the league with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2014. The former second-round draft pick has appeared in 79 career games with 23 starts to go along with it.

In 2020, his most recent full season, Attaochu earned 62.5 defensive and 62.9 pass-rushing grades from Pro Football Focus as a member of the Denver Broncos. Those grades aren’t remarkable, but they’re solid. Among outside linebackers with at least 400 snaps, Attaochu ranked 48th in defensive grade.

Attaochu isn’t remarkable by any means, but the fact that he’s been a consistent presence when it comes to rushing the quarterback — combined with the Steelers’ lack of experience outside of Watt and Highsmith — make him a possible valuable asset to Pittsburgh.

Signing Attaochu Would Be ‘Genius Move,’ Says Writer

According to CJ Lester of Steeler Nation, signing the veteran pass-rushing specialist would be a “genius move.”

“The team doesn’t need another starter at the position, they need a third guy that can spell Watt and Highsmith and still get to the quarterback,” Lester said. “Attaochu could be that guy! It’s simple mathematics, in the same years of experience as the other four guys on the roster behind Watt and Highsmith have combined (eight years), Attaochu has outperformed them in his eight-year NFL career, alone. The Steelers should definitely be on the phone right now waiting for Attaochu to answer!”

Of the four outside linebackers (not including Watt and Highsmith), only Genard Avery has valuable experience. The problem is, the four-year veteran registered as one of the worst linebackers in the league last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, posting a 47.8 defensive grade. It also doesn’t help that he registered just one sack last season and has just three sacks to his name over the past three seasons.

With Attaochu having played under a one-year, $1.5 million deal last season with the Bears, he’ll play for roughly the same amount this upcoming season. With the Steelers holding over $20 million in available cap space and a pressing need for outside linebacker help present, signing Attaochu should be prioritized before the start of training camp.

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