The Pittsburgh Steelers have already signed a half dozen unrestricted free agents from outside the organization during the current signing period — and probably aren’t finished making moves. But with the most frenetic part of the 2022 free agency signing period behind us, it’s time — in the words of ESPN — to identify “the moves that stand out” thus far.
That includes attempting to determine the “best bargain signing of free agency,” a category in which the Steelers were lauded two different times, first by ESPN NFL front office insider Mike Tannenbaum, who labeled quarterback Mitch Trubisky to the Steelers as his single-best bargain signing.
“Trubisky needs to clean up his red zone interceptions after having eight in Chicago, but even if he plays slightly above average, his deal will be a massive bargain ($7.1 million per year) compared to all of the other recent quarterback deals,” notes Tannenbaum. “For instance, how much worse is he really than Kirk Cousins? Cousins just signed an extension that averages $35 million per year,” he concludes, referring to the Vikings’ starter, who will be remaining in Minnesota through the 2023 season.
James Daniels to the Steelers Earns Props
Meanwhile, NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid loves how Pittsburgh added interior offensive lineman James Daniels.
“Considering his age at the start of the season (25) and experience at both center and guard, it was surprising that the fourth-year veteran didn’t demand more on the open market,” says Reid. “Signing a three year, $26.5-million deal is great value for the Steelers at a need position. The former second-round pick likely will step in as the starter at right guard, but he is capable of playing any three positions along the interior. That type of versatility should have been coveted by more teams that were searching for interior offensive line help.”
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JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Chiefs Gets the Most Love Among Voters
On the other hand, one of Pittsburgh’s free agency losses may leave some fans with a sense of what might have been. Three of the 13 voters in ESPN’s poll named JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Kansas City Chiefs as the best bargain signing, including NFL analyst Matt Bowen and fantasy football writer Mike Clay.
“Smith-Schuster gives the Chiefs a physical presence in the slot. He can work inside the hashes and produce as a catch-and-run target for Patrick Mahomes,” notes Bowen.
“Landing a player of Smith-Schuster’s caliber at a $3.25-million base is as good as it gets,” adds Clay. “Sure, he is coming off a lost 2021 campaign, but he posted a 111-1,426-7 receiving campaign as a 21-year-old in 2018 — and he is still in his prime at age 25. With a big upgrade from late-career Ben Roethlisberger to Mahomes, Smith-Schuster has bounce-back written all over him,” he concludes.
No doubt Mahomes is the No. 1 reason Smith-Schuster reportedly hoped to join the Chiefs; playing with an All-Pro quarterback not only gives him the opportunity to potentially win a Super Bowl, it also gives him the chance to earn a more lucrative contract when he becomes a free agent again next offseason.
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