10 signings that would make sense for the Steelers after downsizing
The 2021 NFL season is fast approaching, but there is still time for general managers to improve their rosters. The lists have been reduced from 90 to 53 in a matter of weeks, and many big names are topping the list of cuts.
However, there have been several scheming talents that seem to have fallen through the cracks. Today we’re going to highlight some of those players and determine whether or not they would be a good fit for the Steelers. This list will not include larger named cuts, such as Tyrell Crosby, Matt Skura, Karl Joseph, Nickell Robey-Coleman and many more. While all of this might make sense to the Steelers, these are more well-known products than the players we are discussing today.
Many, but not all, of the players mentioned below will be players playing a position the Steelers lack depth. While positions like the wide receiver and the defensive line aren’t considered necessary positions for the Steelers, we’ll still look at each position and see if the Steelers could still get an upgrade from what they have. However, the main focus will be on players in positions of need.
If you have any ideas on who you would love the Steelers to sign, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
1. Lamont Gaillard – OL
Cut off by the Cincinnati Bengals in the downsizing process, Gaillard is an inside offensive lineman who was one of the SEC’s top linemen while in Georgia. Gaillard is a versatile scheme but is best suited for an area blocking scheme. His sloppy footwork is part of the reason he’s struggled so far in his young career, and there’s no denying that he needs to improve in this area, but the tenacity and wicked streak he plays with every week would make him an ideal candidate for Adrian Klemm System.
2. Tariq Thompson – S
If this name sounds familiar to you, it should. I loved the tape Thompson played while in San Diego State, and it was one of my favorite third-day sleepers last spring. His combination of reach and physique makes him the perfect safety for today’s NFL. He still needs to take better tackling angles and play a little smarter, but his ability to play in the slot machine makes him valuable to the Steelers depending on the current situation. The risk is minimal, if any, as a bottom line player, and the potential payoff down the line is exciting to think about.
3. Sheldrick Redwine – S
In early 2021, I wouldn’t have thought the Browns would cut Sheldrick Redwine. However, the additions of Richard LeCounte and John Johnson put Redwine out of work. He played 27 games during his young career, starting in 8 of them and recording 69 total tackles, 1 interception and 2 defended. Redwine has become a reliable contributor to the defense of the Browns, and I expect him to be the same for the team that signs him next. With the injury and the release of Antoine Brooks, the Steelers are starting to look slim when it comes to safety. Adding a player like Redwine would solidify depth at this position.
4. Carson Green – OL
Green would likely be on the practice squad as opposed to the roster, but former Dan Moore teammate would be a solid addition as a future depth element. Dan Moore was impressive in the pre-season for the Steelers, but if you go back to the 2020 Texas A&M gang, you could argue that Carson Green’s gang was better than Moore’s. Green might not be technically strong, but he’s extremely physical and has the versatility to play either on guard or in tackle. With Zach Banner’s injury issues, adding another guy who can play the right tackle wouldn’t be a bad idea.
5. Roderick Johnson – OT
It was another somewhat unexpected cut, as Johnson had grown into a relatively solid lineman. Johnson played twelve games in 2020, started in three and only gave up one sack in 245 offensive snaps played. He graduated from college as a long-armed mobile lineman who could reach second level in the racing game. He’s shown that same ability on occasion in the pros, but the limited sample size makes it difficult to assess how much he’s really grown in this field since moving to Florida State.
Chuckwuma Okorafor’s inconsistent play has plenty of fans clamoring for Dan Moore to start, but Moore is still on the job and would likely benefit from sitting on the bench for at least the first few games. Johnson is far from the elite, and he’s not necessarily the one you want starting with the full-time left tackle, but he could hold the fort for the first few weeks of the season if Okorafor isn’t. up to it and Moore isn’t ready yet. It would bring a little more stability to a position group which is anything but certain.
6. Steven Sims, Jr. – WR
Let’s go back to my favorites. Sims reminded me so much of Antonio Brown in college with his speed in and out of cups and his explosiveness on the court. Sims hasn’t seen the success Brown has had, but there is still a lot of potential here. After posting a safe and reliable version of himself in 2019, he struggled to secure the ball in 2020. I don’t know what has changed with his game, but it wasn’t a problem I had. found out about leaving college. The receiver may not be needed, but Sims would benefit from a deep reception room. It would also give Ray-Ray McCloud more competition for the lead comeback role.
7. Ben Mason – FB
Sign TJ today, cut Derek tomorrow, and sign Big Ben Mason the next day. Simple, right? I realize this one is extremely unlikely, but if the Steelers wanted to save some money, this would be an ideal route. Mason is an old school back who plays with a mean streak and isn’t afraid to do the dirty work. He also brings decent athleticism and a bit of versatility to the table. With Patrick Ricard already firm atop the depth chart, Baltimore had no room for his fifth-round pick in 2021, who was the number one full-back by consensus in that last draft. This one’s definitely a long shot, but Big Ben Mason has Steelers written all over him.
8. Mac McCain III – CB
Here’s what I had to say about McCain in my pre-project article on defensive sleepers.
McCain burst onto the scene as a freshman, but tore up his ACL the following season. Before this injury, he had 8 interceptions and 16 defended passes. It took him a while to get back to his usual form, but he’s made a full recovery as his pro-day numbers prove. McCain registered a 4.45 in the 40, a 6.94 in the 3 cone exercise. and a vertical of 35.5 inches.
I see McCain as the FCS version of Jaycee Horn. He does a great job of squeezing the receivers on the line and redirecting them, but he also has the loose hips and fluidity to play in the zone at a high level. It gets a bit grippy at times, but it’s a teachable problem. McCain’s aggressive style of play combined with his solid athleticism makes him a prospect more than worth being an end-of-round aviator. He has a starting potential as an outside cornerback.
Just hours after the project ended, a report surfaced that the Steelers were going to sign McCain, but that turned out to be wrong.
Franklin Mac McCain, CB, North Carolina A&T reportedly sang with the Denver Broncos. I had previously quoted other people saying that the Pittsburgh Steelers deleted the Tweet because it was still shared and didn’t want incorrect information. My apologies for this. #NFLDraft # NFLDraft2021
– Bex_R (@ Bex_R86) May 2, 2021
I don’t know if the Steelers were genuinely interested in him or if it was just a false report, but the Steelers might have another chance against him anyway. McCain can play indoors or outdoors, but he’s more experienced on the outdoors. Despite his size, this is where I think he is best. His tenacity and aggressiveness make up for his elite lack of size, and his combination of speed and instinct would give Teryl Austin a lot of work. He’s probably going to end up on the Broncos’ practice squad, but if he clears the waivers I’d love to see the Steelers give this guy a chance.
9. Sua Opeta – G
The Weber State product’s impressive combine performance in 2019 was not enough to make it draft, but after two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, it has become a reliable backup. Opeta is a powerful guard who can move defenders in the running game. His technique has always been a bit sloppy, but in reinforcement, I don’t see it as a major concern. Having cut both Rashaad Coward and BJ Finney, it’s almost a guarantee that the Steelers will add someone else who can play guard, whether through trade or free agency. I could see the Steelers signing a signing on a bigger scale than this, but if they want to go the affordable route, Opeta would be a great choice.
10. Jimmy Moreland – BC
This one started to speak about him since the news broke that Washington was suppressing Moreland. Moreland was a hugely productive college player, recording eighteen career interceptions and taking six home. He was expected to become a dangerous punt and kick returner in the NFL, but he struggled to make a consistent impact in this area. Still, he would keep the pressure on Ray-Ray McCloud on special teams, and his ability to play a nickel cornerback would be huge for a Steelers team that was unable to fill the void left by Mike Hilton.
Other names to note:
Maurice French – WR
Sean Davis – S
Hakeem Butler – WR
Greg Stroman – CB
Isaiah Wright – WR
Antonio Hamilton – BC
Paris Ford – S
Kahlil McKenzie – DT
Derwin Gray – G
CJ Marable – RB
Brock Wright – TE
Which players would you like to see the Steelers bring in? Do you think any of the players listed above would improve the Steelers roster? Be sure to light up the comments section below with your thoughts on this and everything else about the Pittsburgh Steelers!