The Pittsburgh Steelers continued what’s been an active off-season on Tuesday by signing free agent defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal. The specifics of the deal have yet to be announced, but the signing was crucial.
After Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement just a few weeks ago, a hole was left open on the defensive line. A starting trio of Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, and Chris Wormley is still very good, but the team’s depth took an obvious hit. Bringing in Ogunjobi provides much-needed depth and competition at the position to help aid the loss of Tuitt. No one exactly knows who will start on the line yet beyond Heyward, but the signing puts less pressure on the young, inexperienced linemen.
Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal will have more time to develop and mature behind the four veterans. They won’t be forced into action prematurely, and now, they won’t even be the first guy(s) off the bench either. The primary reserve will likely be whichever of the four “main” guys along the defensive line doesn’t start.
These youngsters will still get their chance via special teams and rotational snaps throughout the course of a game.
Ogunjobi’s presence secures a higher likelihood that the Steelers won’t have to use guys like Henry Mondeaux and Daniel Archibong on the defensive line again. Last year was a bit of an anomaly in a variety of ways. There were several unfortunate injuries and in turn, the run defense was exploited regularly due to those guys getting consistent minutes. Tuitt obviously missed the whole season due to a multitude of reasons. Alualu basically missed the whole season with his fractured ankle he suffered in Week 2.
Steelers DL outlook
Now heading into 2022, Alualu is back, Ogunjobi is on the team, and Leal has been drafted as well. This goes without mentioning the potential growth of a guy like Loudermilk, who has spent the off-season bulking up. Even Montravius Adams showed flashes in limited action last season, which led to the Steelers bringing him back. Adams now will have a full training camp under his belt in the black and gold, and he presents yet another solid depth piece.
In essence, the signing of Ogunjobi puts less pressure on the depth guys along the defensive line.
The signing could potentially not work out, however.
It was just three months ago that he failed his physical with the Chicago Bears. There are some injury concerns there, as he had foot surgery in the off-season. Ogunjobi has played in 76 games in five seasons, so he’s proved to be durable in his career. With that, he had a three-year, $40 million deal with the Bears before the failed physical. While he’s not the best run defender, a $13 million per year deal should tell you that he’s a very talented lineman.
After four years with the Cleveland Browns, Ogunjobi signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals last off-season. With the Bengals, he earned just over $6 million in his lone season. Ogunjobi broke out in 2021, as he had career-highs in sacks (7.0), quarterback hits (16), and tackles for loss (12). Additionally, the Steelers don’t have to worry about $40 million possibly going down the drain. It’s simply a one-year deal, so there’s really no downside to this deal. This should be considered the definition of a low-risk, high-reward signing.
What do you guys think about the signing of Ogunjobi? If he starts, who goes to the bench along the defensive line? Are you less concerned about the depth on the DL now? Let us know your thoughts on the signing of Ogunjobi in the comment section below!
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