Steelers Interviewing Lions Assistant for O-Line Job: Report

Hank Fraley

Photo by NFL via Getty Images Hank Fraley, when he was a member of the St. Louis Rams.

According to a new report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Pittsburgh Steelers are interviewing Hank Fraley for offensive line coach. Fraley, 43, held the same job for the Detroit Lions in 2020, after spending two years as assistant offensive line coach in Detroit.

Prior to that he served as assistant offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings (2014-16), and then worked as offensive line coach for a year at UCLA.

If he is hired, he will replace Shaun Sarrett, who was Pittsburgh’s assistant offensive line coach in 2018 and named offensive line coach in 2019 after Mike Munchak moved on to the Denver Broncos. Pittsburgh’s offensive line allowed a league-low 14 sacks in 2020, but the team also rushed for the fewest yards in the NFL, producing a lowly 3.6 yards per carry and just 84.4 yards per game.

There figures to be significant turnover on Pittsburgh’s offensive line this offseason as Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler and the injured Zach Banner are all unrestricted free agents. Moreover, perennial Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey may be considering retirement. Pouncey and veteran right guard David DeCastro each have one year left on their contracts.

Hank Fraley Has Pittsburgh Roots

Hank Fraley entered the NFL in 2000, signing with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University. In 2001, the Maryland native established himself as the starting center for the Philadelphia Eagles, and he logged 72 games for the Eagles over five seasons.

In 2006 he was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a seventh-round draft pick, and he started 52 games for the Browns over the next four seasons before wrapping up his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams in 2010.

In college he was an All-Northeast Conference selection at offensive tackle in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He had his jersey (No. 75) retired in 2001 and he was enshrined in the Robert Morris University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin plans to hire an offensive line coach before naming a new offensive coordinator, though a recent report indicates that quarterbacks coach Matt Canada will be elevated to that role.

Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler Returning for 2021

Meanwhile, Dulac is also reporting that the Steelers are bringing back defensive coordinator Keith Butler for another season.

Butler, 64, has served as Tomlin’s defensive coordinator since 2015, but he’s been with the Steelers since the Bill Cowher era, having been hired as the team’s linebackers coach in 2003.

Tomlin will also need to hire a new defensive backs coach to replace Tom Bradley (who was not retained), and a new tight ends coach to replace James Daniel, who has retired.

Bradley had been the team’s defensive backs coach for the past three seasons, while Daniel was with the Steelers for the past 17 seasons. Keith Butler is now the longest-tenured assistant coach in the organization.

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