The Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt some tough news earlier this week with three key players landing on IR to start the season. Stephon Tuitt, Anthony McFarland and Zach Banner will miss at least the first three weeks of the season and each were poised to have big roles for the Steelers in 2021. The Steelers will likely be able to manage without Tuitt and McFarland, but Banner was slotted to start at right tackle and now there’s a large hole to fill on the offensive line.
The Steelers drafted Dan Moore Jr. in the fourth round this year, but it would sure be a tall task to ask Moore to produce consistently in the NFL with little experience right away. Luckily for the Steelers, there’s a free agent tackle on the market that could come in and fill the spot left by Banner and provide great depth when Banner is ready to come back – Russel Okung.
Okung has been a viable starter in the NFL since he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Okung came in right away and showed that he could be a very serviceable tackle in the NFL and has made two Pro Bowls in his ten seasons. However, the big knock on Okung has been his inability to stay healthy. He has played in 16 games once in his entire career and has only suited up for 13 games over the last two seasons. Okung also hasn’t been at any teams’ training camp this season, so it would be hard to tell what kind of shape he is in.
Either way, Okung provides experience and accountability in the fact that you know what you are getting when you sign him. Okung has voiced his demand for a large contract, but his tune may have changed a bit after no one signed him during training camp and the NFL season only being a week away. The Steelers have nearly 16 million dollars in cap room, so money really is not an issue for them at this point, but you don’t want to overpay for a player that you aren’t going to necessarily need for all 17 games.
The Steelers are in a win now mode and without a starting right tackle, they could be in a bad position to start the season. A move is needed to bring in a dependable tackle with significant NFL experience and Okung would be an excellent fit until Banner is cleared to come back. If the Steelers don’t sign Okung, look for them to at least bring in a tackle with starting experience to push Moore and provide some serious depth at a position where they do not have much.
What free agent do you want the Steelers to bring in? Sound off in the comments below!