The Pittsburgh Steelers became a host for two former NFC West defenders during the week of May 15 before deciding on adding to their room — one of them a former San Francisco 49ers $54 million defender and the other a pass rusher the 49ers once game planned against.
But in the end, Kwon Alexander remains unsigned as the Steelers opted for ex-Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Markus Golden, per ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday, May 24.
Heavy NFL senior reporter Matt Lombardo spoke with an AFC scouting director to share his thoughts on the Golden signing.
“He’s exactly the kind of pass-rusher they love in Pittsburgh,” the executive told Lombardo on May 24. “They don’t mind size and length limitations, they just like production on the opposite side of Watt. And, listen, you can’t ever have enough pass-rushers.”
But how did Steeler fans feel about the team opting for Golden instead of Alexander?
Steeler Fans Sound Off on Team Passing on Alexander
Alexander, who signed his blockbuster deal with the Niners back in 2019, got Steeler fans sounding off on being passed on for Golden.
“I was really hoping that Omar Khan was going to sign Kwon Alexander. Mark Robinson, Elandon Roberts, and Cole Holcomb are all liabilities in pass coverage,” one fan since 1975 said on Twitter.
Another fan ripped the Steelers, tweeting out “Holy crap. The Steelers had a guy in for a visit and he signed! I didn’t know they could do both. Thought it was one or the other after Bud Dupree and Kwon Alexander basically came for free coffee and donuts.”
Meanwhile, the website Steelers Nation wrote about the possibility of seeing Alexander in a Steeler uniform before the Golden deal came.
“At this stage of his career, Alexander is a seasoned veteran known as a versatile player with a broad skill set,” Steelers Nation wrote. “However, concerns over his health make a thorough medical evaluation crucial. It is worth noting that Alexander played in all 17 games during the 2022 season, significantly improving his health and potentially strengthening his chances of signing.”
Golden helps add needed depth for the Steelers’ edge rush room, which got hit with T.J. Watt sustaining a torn pectoral ailment during 2022 and lacked depth outside of him and breakout performer Alex Highsmith, who delivered 14.5 sacks. Now, Golden and Dupree help answer the depth concerns.
Golden produced three seasons of surpassing double-digit sacks — two during his time with the Cardinals. Golden had two stints with Arizona from 2015 to 2018 then returned as a midseason trade in 2020, and played two more seasons. Golden produced 6.5 career sacks against the 49ers in his career according to Pro Football Reference. And that includes his three-sack outing on November 7, 2021. Golden, though, went sackless in the two lopsided victories delivered by the 49ers in 2022 against their division rival.
Has Kwon Alexander Hinted at his Next Stop?
Alexander, though, may have revealed his next destination via, of all ideas, his newest rap song.
Captured by Heavy on Jets reporter Paul “Boy Green” Esden on May 19, Alexander dropped a new rap video that makes references to the Jets — including Alexander being seen doing their “Take Flight” celebration.
This gives off the indicator he’ll return to the Jets and have one more run with former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh plus offensive guard Laken Tomlinson.
Alexander signed a one-year deal with the Jets that paid him nearly $1.3 million. The 29-year-old remains an unrestricted free agent who’s unsigned during OTAs (Organized Team Activities) across the NFL.
Alexander produced 34 tackles, 22 solo stops and five tackles for a loss during his time with the 49ers — which includes the 2019 NFC title run.