The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an off-season in which they found themselves being heavily active. In previous off-seasons, we’ve seen the front office stay quiet and focus primarily on the current roster at that particular time. Instead in 2022, the organization took a step in a different direction adding to the team through the free agent process and NFL Draft much more aggressively. Although the offensive side of the football got most of the off-season attention, there were some moves made on the opposite side of the football that caught my attention as well.
For much of the off-season, Steeler Nation had heard rumblings of a potential upgrade at the strong safety position coming, with previous free agent Tyrann Mathieu being at the forefront of that conversation. Although there was mutual interest in the 3x Pro Bowl safety between both parties, Mathieu announced he was signing with the New Orleans Saints and the Steelers moved their interest elsewhere.
Despite some interest from other organizations around the league, the Steelers reached an agreement with Terrell Edmunds, bringing him back in the black and gold for another guaranteed season. Although Edmunds was a first round draft choice by this same organization, his production on the field over these past four years did not garner him the multi-year contract extension the safety was looking for. Instead, the safety is heading into another “prove yourself” type of season, with a team who Edmunds already has previous comfort with. This could be a win-win situation for both sides.
Unless, however, new free agent signee Damontae Kazee has something to say about that. The Steelers signed the former Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys safety with the intention of there being a potential competition between himself and Edmunds as well. Kazee made a name for himself in the league while in Atlanta where he was the team’s starter for consecutive seasons. He came onto the scene with a stellar 2018 season in which he recorded over 880 combined tackles and tied for the league lead in interceptions with 7.
Kazee’s production went down after he suffered a torn Achilles in Week 4 of the 2020 season, ending not only his season, but his career in Atlanta as well. He found a short lived home with Dallas in 2021 where he saw the field a decent amount, intercepting two passes with a combined total of 52 tackles. There is no doubt that Kazee is wanting to get back to the form that he had back in 2020 and is hoping Pittsburgh can be the next permanent home to do so in.
“This is my year six, so I have learned how to do things. I have played for two different teams, so I have learned how to come in and put my head down, go to work and do what I have to do.”
“It’s been going good, It’s like a brotherhood here. Everyone communicates with everybody. They bring you in with warm arms. Everyone is going to do what they need to do and get the job done.”
While Edmunds has been confident in his ability and has been vocal about the starting job being his to lose, who is to say that Kazee can’t come into Pittsburgh and make an imprint on this team immediately? Kazee himself in one season (2018) has more interceptions combined (7) than Edmunds does in his career. Now, Edmunds is coming off probably his best season yet as a pro and Kazee is coming off a year in which production was down and I do believe Edmunds has the advantage going into camp. But who’s to say that the Steelers free agent signing can’t make being Minkah Fittzpatrick‘s counterpart in the backend of the secondary a closer competition than we thought?
Do you think Kazee could end up taking over the starting safety spot alongside Fitzpatrick? Comment below!