Steelers Urged to Target Former Rival’s Draft Pick for 2023

Mike Tomlin

Getty One analyst is urging Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers to target a 4-time Pro Bowler in free agency.

Offensive tackle is a position the Pittsburgh Steelers could address with their No. 17 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

But Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox apparently has a different idea for the Steelers’ offseason plan — sign Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.

Knox constructed a list of 10 players he predicted to be Pittsburgh’s top free agent targets this offseason. Brown topped the list at No. 1.

“Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is perhaps the one player for which it would be logical to clear cap room and chase with a big-money contract,” wrote Knox.

“While he might not be an elite left tackle, he’s a four-time Pro Bowler who can play on either side, and he’s only 26 years old. He’s a player alongside whom Pickett could grow, and he’d be an immediate upgrade over Dan Moore Jr.”

In 2022, Brown made his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl.

Steelers to Target Tackle in Free Agency?

The Steelers improved along the offensive line during 2022, especially during the second half of the season. The Pittsburgh offensive line finished 16th in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus in 2022. That was a jump up from 27th in run blocking during 2021.

But offensive tackle still figures to be one of the team’s main priorities this offseason. A lot of early mock drafts have had the Steelers targeting an offensive linemen in the first round.

The Steelers have other needs, though, including defensive line, linebacker and cornerback. Drafting wide receiver Jordan Addison, who is a former teammate of quarterback Kenny Pickett, has also been rumored as a possibility.

If the Steelers plan to address those needs rather than offensive line with their first few selections, then they should make adding reinforcements to the line a priority in free agency.

Knox seemed to favor that strategy. Of the 10 targets he listed as top options for the Steelers in free agency, six of them were offensive linemen.

How Brown Potentially Fits With the Steelers

Of those six possible offensive line free agent targets, Brown is definitely the top choice. That also would make him the most expensive.

“Steelers general manager Omar Khan would have to engage in some financial gymnastics to make a deal with Brown work, but doing so could solidify the most important position on Pittsburgh’s line for the foreseeable future,” wrote Knox.

Knox noted that it’s possible the Chiefs re-sign him to a long-term contract. Spotrac projected Brown’s market value to be $22.4 million annually on a five-year contract.

Brown began his career with the Baltimore Ravens as a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He started 10 games at right tackle as a rookie and became the team’s permanent starter at right tackle in 2019. During his first full year as a starter, Brown helped the Ravens post a franchise-best 14-2 record with the league’s top rushing attack.

The 26-year-old started 16 games combined at left and right tackle for the Ravens in 2020. He permanently switched to left tackle for the Chiefs starting in 2021.

Kansas City acquired him from Baltimore for a first-round pick prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.

Brown has never missed an NFL game. Over the last four seasons, he’s played 4,390 out of a possible 4,408 offensive snaps (99.59%).

As Knox wrote, it would take a lot of cap maneuvering to make Brown fit under the salary cap. Spotrac projected the Steelers to be over the cap when free agency begins.

But if the money could work, Brown would go a long way to helping the Steelers take another step forward along their offensive line.

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