The Pittsburgh Steelers have re-signed veteran defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, and defensive end Cameron Heyward is pleased about the move.
Heyward expressed his excitement about Ogunjobi’s pending return to the Steelers with a message on Twitter.
“Hell yea!!!” Heyward wrote in a Twitter post.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Ogunjobi is returning to the Steelers on a three-year, $28.75 million deal. Ogunjobi will receive $21.75 million in the first two years of the contract.
Steelers Bringing Back DT Larry Ogunjobi
After cornerback Cameron Sutton, Ogunjobi was arguably the most important free agent for the Steelers to re-sign. The Steelers don’t have much depth along their defensive line, especially young depth, but the return of Ogunjobi will help mask that weakness in the short term.
Heyward and Ogunjobi should be the Steelers top two defensive linemen in 2023. While both will be at least 29 by training camp, the team has other pieces along the defensive line it can develop behind those two defensive linemen this fall.
“Ogunjobi, who turns 29 in June, will continue what he did last year for the Steelers — play alongside veteran Cameron Heyward on the defensive line and have the ability and athleticism to play anywhere from nose to tackle to end in multiple sub-packages,” The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote. “It allows DeMarvin Leal to move into a bigger role without the pressure of being a full-time starter while giving Isaiahh Loudermilk a chance at being a rotational player along with Montravius Adams.”
Ogunjobi has played his entire career in the AFC North. He was a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft for the Cleveland Browns.
In his first four years, Ogunjobi recorded 14.5 sacks, 180 combined tackles, including 29 tackles for loss. He spent the 2021 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he posted a career-high 7 sacks.
With the Steelers in 2022, Ogunjobi registered 48 combined tackles, including 7 for loss, 11 quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks.
Pro Football Focus ranked Ogunjobi as the No. 90 overall player available in free agency. The PFF player grades rated Ogunjobi the Steelers’ third-best defensive linemen last season.
Ogunjobi’s Impact on Steelers’ Salary Cap, Draft Strategy
In addition to Heyward’s excitement, Kaboly gave his stamp of approval on the Steelers’ decision to re-sign Ogunjobi.
Kaboly argued Ogunjobi’s return will not pigeonhole the Steelers into having to reach for a defensive lineman early in the draft out of necessity.
“Ogunjobi will help on the field, as he fits the mold the Steelers want in a defensive lineman — athletic and active,” Kaboly wrote. “But this also helps the team avoid forcing a pick on a defensive lineman in the draft, which is right out of the Kevin Colbert GM handbook. That’s the most immediate impact.”
In addition to Ogunjobi, the Steelers re-signed safety Damontae Kazee on March 14. They also signed cornerback Patrick Peterson to a two-year, $14 million contract.
Kaboly wrote that in all likelihood, the Steelers will need to release a couple of players to be cap compliant at the 4 pm ET deadline on March 15. The team began free agency on March 13 with about $10 million of cap space.
It’s also possible that the Steelers can create cap room by restructuring current contracts.