Last year at this time, the Pittsburgh Steelers only had one name that they were concerned about hitting free agency. Discuss ESPN Lists 2 Steelers in 2023 Top Free Agents. That was All-Pro linebacker, TJ Watt. Watt of course would break the bank days before the Steelers opened the regular season in Buffalo.
ESPN Lists 2 Steelers
According to ESPN, the Steelers have two of the top 20 free agents that could potentially be available next March. See below:
11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers
Age entering 2023 season: 26
Fitzpatrick has already been traded once — after his rookie season with the Dolphins — but from the start has been one of the NFL’s top playmakers in the back end. He has scored four defensive touchdowns in his career, tied for the most in the NFL over that span, and his 13 interceptions rank tied for No. 8.
Fitzpatrick is the Steelers’ top priority this off-season, much like Watt was last year. Fitzpatrick saw what Watt did en route to receiving a record-breaking contract. That included sitting out of all team drills during training camp. While safeties aren’t valued the same as pass rushers, Fitzpatrick will command a contract that puts him into the top five for safeties. Even if for some ridiculous reason the Steelers aren’t able to lock up Fitzpatrick this off-season, the chances of him hitting the market are likely slim to none. Worst case scenario, the team uses the franchise tag on him while they work out a long-term deal next off-season.
20. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Age entering 2023 season: 27
If nothing else, Johnson has proved to be a consistent target for a middling offense. He has improved with each season in Pittsburgh, and his 254 career catches are the most by any receiver in the 2019 draft class. It helps that he has been targeted 407 times over that period, largely on short passes that have led to an average of 10.9 yards per catch. His drop percentage of 5.4% is worrisome, but he has a chance to vault into a higher tier in 2022.
This is going to be the tough decision for the Steelers front office. Fitzpatrick is a slam dunk All-Pro, but Johnson has had struggles. His inconsistencies, which mostly consist of drops, have come to light at in-opportune times. Johnson has all of the route running tools, and his ability to get off the line is Antonio Brown-like. It was rumored prior to free agency that Johnson was looking for a contract in the range of $15 million per season. Many fans laughed at that, but in reality, it was a fair request. Now after the contracts that mediocre receivers received the past two weeks, it seems like Johnson’s value will be more towards $20 million per season. If only the Steelers brass would’ve known that the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to give the average Christian Kirk $84 million.
The Steelers are scheduled to have $81 million in cap room as of Saturday for 2023. That’s only with 27 players under contract. So it will go down significantly, but most of those contracts will be minimum deals. If you look ahead to 2024, they will have $162 million available. So the sky will again be the limit next off-season. They’ll be able to give high dollar values for 2024 and beyond with essentially none of that money accounted for right now.Do yinz think both Fitzpatrick and Johnson are worth the money? Click to comment below!