Steelers Projected to Target Rival Defender in Free Agency

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are being predicted to target one of their rival's linebackers in NFL free agency.

Rumors have connected the Pittsburgh Steelers to upcoming free agent linebacker Tremaine Edmunds this offseason. But Pro Football Focus has the Steelers targeting a different linebacker in free agency.

PFF’s Brad Spielberger has predicted the Steelers to pursue Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kyzir White during the 2023 offseason.

“[White] is a great coverage linebacker in the modern NFL, matching up well with opposing running backs and tight ends, posting 60.0-plus coverage grades in every season of his career thus far,” wrote Spielberger. “He’s not just a coverage backer though, demonstrating solid three-down ability with 181 tackles and 99 defensive stops over the last two seasons.”

White started eight games for the Eagles during this past regular season. In 17 appearances, White posted 110 combined tackles, including 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 7 pass defenses.

Steelers to Target White in Free Agency?

White isn’t as popular of name or the brother of a Steelers safety like Edmunds is, but White is a more affordable free agent option that could fit well in the Pittsburgh defense.

Spielberger wrote that playing for linebackers coach Brian Flores should be appealing to White because it “could help” him “take that next step.” The PFF analyst also estimated that White would “pair well” with Steelers linebacker Myles Jack.

There’s no guarantee either Flores or Jack will return to Pittsburgh in 2023. Flores has been interviewing for various positions across the league; he could be a defensive coordinator or even a head coach for another NFL organization next season. Furthermore, the Steelers could release Jack to save $8 million against the salary cap.

Regardless, though, White appears to be the coverage linebacker that the organization hoped it was getting when it drafted Devin Bush four years ago.

According to the player grades at PFF, White has been up and down as a tackler and pass rusher in his career. But he’s been solidly consistent in coverage.

How White Potentially Fits With the Steelers

Obviously, that’s how White best fits in Pittsburgh — an inside linebacker who can help in passing situations.

The Steelers aren’t likely to re-sign Bush, who has been a disappointment as a former first-round pick. Fellow linebacker Robert Spillane is also a free agent, and Jack could be released for cap savings.

Bush, Spillane and Jack all played at least 55% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps in 2022. The Steelers would still need to draft or sign another linebacker, but adding White would help overcome the loss of those three linebackers (if they are all indeed off the roster).

The Los Angeles Chargers drafted White at No. 119 overall in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He played four years with the Chargers before joining the Eagles on a 1-year, $3 million contract last offseason.

During his final two seasons with the Chargers, he started 27 games, including all 17 contests in 2021. With eight starts this year, he’s been a spot starter for the Eagles.

In 64 career NFL games, White has posted 388 combined tackles, including 243 solos and 16 tackles for loss. He’s also recorded 10 quarterback hits, 3.0 sacks, 17 pass defenses, 4 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles.

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