3 free agents the Steelers should avoid

Steelers free agency news, Mike Tomlin

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-3 at TIAA Bank Field on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Steelers have a ton of work to do in free agency, but it”s imperative for Pittsburgh to avoid spending big on these three players.

Ben Roethlisberger’s contract issue will dominate the headlines of Pittsburgh’s offseason, but that doesn’t change the reality that the Steelers have a ton of work to do in free agency. Several big-name stars are set to hit the open market looking for massive contracts. The team may be forced to replace them with veterans who are willing to accept more modest compensation.

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bud Dupree are the two players that truly qualify as high profile free agents for the Steelers. Smith-Schuster may not be the league’s most dynamic deep threat, but he still caught 97 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. That’s excellent production for a wide receiver who will just turn 25 next season.

An injury limited Dupree to just 11 games last season but he still came away with eight sacks. He was a key figure for Tomlin’s defense due to his ability to wreak havoc on the edge. Pass-rushers have a habit of getting paid in free agency. It won’t be cheap for Pittsburgh to keep him.

Avoiding mistakes in free agency is vital for the Steelers if they want to be a Super Bowl contender in 2021. Paying market-rate for any of the following three players would be a big mistake.

3. Chidobe Awuzie

The Steelers will struggle to retain cornerback Mike Hilton in free agency which leaves them with a need to find a free agent willing to contribute right away in the secondary. Awuzie played a lot for the Cowboys in 2020, but the truth is he just wasn’t very good.

He’s also a cornerback who needs to play in a zone-heavy scheme to hold up as a starter. The Steelers want their defensive backs to play aggressive man-to-man coverage on a high percentage of snaps. Someone is going to pay Awuzie to be a starter, but the Steelers should be too smart to make that mistake.