The Pittsburgh Steelers have addressed a lot of needs this offseason. But one area where they could still use some help is at inside linebacker.
With that in mind, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on May 15 that the Steelers have invited 2017 Pro Bowl linebacker Kwon Alexander for a visit.
Alexander played for the New York Jets last season. He posted 69 combined tackles, including 6 for loss, 2 quarterback hits, 1 pass defense, 1 forced fumble and 0.5 sacks in 17 games, including 12 starts.
Before the 2019 season, Alexander signed a four-year, $54 million contract to join the San Francisco 49ers.
LB Kwon Alexander Set to Visit the Steelers
Alexander began his career as a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He became one of the top middle linebackers in the NFC, particularly in 2016 when he led the NFL with 108 solo tackles.
In 2016, he also had 145 combined tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, 7 quarterback hits, 7 pass defenses, 3 sacks and 1 interception. He made the Pro Bowl the following season with 97 combined tackles, including 7 tackles for loss and 3 interceptions.
But then injuries started to plague Alexander’s career. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 during the 2018 season just as he was about to test free agency.
Alexander, though, still landed a sizable deal with the 49ers. However, in 2019, he suffered a torn pectoral that cost him half the season.
At the trade deadline in 2020, the 49ers traded Alexander to the New Orleans Saints. He manned the middle of New Orleans’ defense until tearing an Achilles tendon in Week 16.
The Saints released Alexander but brought him back on a smaller contract for 2021. But New Orleans again released him after the season.
The Jets signed him to a one-year deal last offseason.
How Alexander Could Fit With the Steelers
Even when healthy, Alexander isn’t the same player he was five years ago. That was evident last year when he finally played his first full season since 2016.
But Alexander could still be useful for the Steelers defense.
Pittsburgh has completely revamped their inside linebacker room this offseason. The Steelers didn’t bring back Devin Bush or Robert Spillane and released Myles Jack. In free agency, they signed Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts.
The Steelers didn’t add any more inside linebacker depth in the draft. Despite some debate from media pundits, Wisconsin linebacker Nick Herbig, who the team selected in the fourth round, is expected to be an edge rusher.
That leaves the Steelers a little thin at inside linebacker.
Currently, veterans Tae Crowder and Tanner Muse are Pittsburgh’s best bench options at inside linebacker.
The Steelers signed Crowder on December 27, but he didn’t play in a game for Pittsburgh. In three seasons with the New York Giants, he recorded 232 combined tackles, including 9 tackles for loss, 8 pass defenses, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions in 41 games. He started 31 contests for the Giants.
Muse is a former safety who played more linebacker last year for the Seattle Seahawks. In 23 games for the Seahawks, he posted 20 combined tackles and 1 pass defense over two seasons.
The Steelers also have Mark Robinson and Chapelle Russell on their roster as options at inside linebacker.
A 2022 seventh-round pick, Robinson saw his playing time increase down the stretch last year. He even made two starts to end the season.
Russell won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. He last appeared in an NFL regular season game for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021.
Potentially adding Alexander to their inside linebacker core would give the Steelers some much need depth and more experience.