The Pittsburgh Steelers could be in the running to sign one of their division rival’s top free agents.
As the Steelers continue to seek possible replacements following the abrupt retirement of Stephen Tuitt, Pittsburgh is hosting former Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for a workout.
Via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday, June 21:
“Former Bengals’ DT Larry Ogunjobi, who had seven sacks last season, is visiting today with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source,” says Schefter. He recently visited with the New York Jets.”
UPDATE 6:22 p.m. EST: Ogunjobi has signed a one-year deal with the Steelers, according to Schefter.
Ogunjobi’s Numbers Paint a Mixed Picture
Ogunjobi posted arguably his best season in his first and only year for the AFC champions last season. The 28-year-old posted a career-high seven sacks with 12 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits with the Bengals.
While his individual statistics were impressive, 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle’s advanced numbers paint a less flattering picture. According to Pro Football Focus, posted a 50.3 run defensive grade and a 38.9 run defensive grade last season. Those numbers were not just career lows across the board, they were some of the worst in the league among interior linemen.
In fact, Ogunjobi’s ranked within the bottom four in defensive grade and was second-to-last in run defensive grade among all interior linemen with at least 700 snaps last season.
While the numbers obviously show different sides to the story, Ogunjobi had previously found a new home earlier in the offseason with the Chicago Bears. However, after failing a physical with the Bears, the deal was nixed. It’s worth noting that while Ogunjobi played and started in 16 games last season, he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the team’s opening playoff game that required surgery.
Ogunjobi was expected to sign a three-year deal worth over $40 million and $26 million guaranteed.
Via The Athletic:
“The Chicago Bears are no longer signing former Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi due to a failed physical, the team said Friday,” reported on March 18. As of Monday, he was expected to sign a three-year deal worth $40.5 million, including $26.35 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.”
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Steelers Should Sign Ogunjobi at the Right Price
While the Steelers certainly have the salary cap space to sign Ogunjobi — they have nearly $23 million in available cap space — one can probably expect Pittsburgh to sign the veteran to a cheaper deal than his Bears offer. Not only are we on the verge of entering the month of July, the Steelers aren’t exactly pressing to find Tuitt’s replacement from the outside.
In a worst-case scenario, the Steelers could opt to stick with Chris Wormley, who started 14 games in Tuitt’s absence last season, posting seven sacks, 51 tackles and six tackles for loss. According to PFF, Wormley posted an above average grade of a 68.3 defensive grade and a 69.0 run defensive grade last season. Not bad numbers at all considering Wormley had never served as a full-time starter prior to the start of the 2021 season.
Considering Ogunjobi’s experience as a starter and his brief foray in the playoffs last season, he could be a valuable contributor for the Steelers. Ogunjobi could emerge as a mentor for their younger players along the defensive line such as the second-year Isaiahh Loudermilk and rookie DeMarvin Leal.
With that being said, signing Ogunjobi is not a necessity for Pittsburgh; he has to be signed for the right price.