The Pittsburgh Steelers are still making moves just before training camp.
As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday, June 21, the Steelers have signed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal. The 28-year-old Ogunjobi spent last season with the Cincinnati Bengals and played four prior seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
“Former Bengals’ DT Larry Ogunjobi has signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source,” says Schefter. “Ogunjobi now will have played for the Browns, Bengals and Steelers, leaving the Ravens as the lone Ogunjobi-less AFC North team.”
Steelers Signed Ogunjobi to Replace Tuitt
Ogunjobi played and started in 16 games last season for the AFC champions before suffering a season-ending foot injury in the Wild Card playoff game versus the Las Vegas Raiders. The five-year veteran posted career-highs of seven sacks, 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits.
The former Browns defensive tackle had previously agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears at the beginning of free agency. However, a failed physical led to that agreement falling through.
The veteran defensive tackle will likely compete to fill the role left over by the retirement of longtime interior lineman Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt announced his retirement in May after sitting out the 2021 season.
Tuitt was an absolute force on the defensive line for the Steelers over the course of his career. The 6-foot-6, 303-pound defensive tackle posted 34.5 sacks and 48.0 tackles for loss during his eight seasons with the Steelers. In fact, Tuitt posted defensive grades of 82.5 in 2017, 81.9 in 2018 and 89.1 in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. In other words, Tuitt ranked No. 5 in 2019 and No. 19 in 2017 in defensive grade among all interior linemen.
While Ogunjobi’s resume doesn’t quite match up with Tuitt — Ogunjobi posted a 50.3 defensive grade last season and has never exceeded a 78.4 defensive grade in his career — he does provide the Steelers an experienced option to fill his void.
The other candidates competing for playing time are Chris Wormley, the second-year Isaiahh Loudermilk and rookie DeMarvin Leal. Prior to starting 14 games last season for the Steelers in Tuitt’s absence, Wormley had never started a full season in the NFL.
Considering Ogunjobi has started 63 of his 76 career appearances and has played his entire career in the AFC North division, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle will likely emerge as a valuable piece of the Steelers’ defensive line rotation.
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Ogunjobi’s Role With Steelers in 2022
How does Ogunjobi fit exactly with the Steelers?
As noted by Jonathan Heitritter of Steelers Depot, Ogunjobi likely won’t be relied on as a full-time starter for Pittsburgh. Instead, he expects Ogunjobi to play several roles along the defensive line, including as a sub-package defensive tackle and a three-technique/4i as a base defensive end.
“Overall, Larry Ogunjobi provides the Pittsburgh Steelers as a disruptive presence upfront that has the strength to hold his own at the point of attack as well as the quickness to penetrate into the backfield and cause havoc as a pass rusher along the interior,” says Heitritter.
Considering the Steelers had a major void following Tuitt’s retirement and the fact they have plenty of salary cap space to work with, this is a quality signing for Pittsburgh heading into training camp.