Latest On Steelers DT Larry Ogunjobi

Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi joined the Steelers earlier this week, and it sounds like the organization is confident the acquisition will be on the field when practices resume. Ogunjobi underwent Lisfranc surgery this offseason but is expected to be ready for training camp, reports Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Steelers, DT Larry Ogunjobi Agree To Deal]

This isn’t a huge surprise; if the Steelers sensed there were any lingering issues with the player’s foot, it’s unlikely he would have passed their physical. Still, considering Ogunjobi’s ordeal this offseason, it’s still a positive development.

Ogunjobi suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Bengals’ wild-card win over the Raiders. He hit free agency following the season, and he eventually found a suitor in the Bears, agreeing to a three-year, $40.5MM deal. However, the foot injury forced him to fail his physical, and the contract was ultimately nixed. That botched deal seemed to hang over the defensive tackle for the much of the offseason; while he did land a workout with the Jets, it was otherwise quiet on the Ogunjobi front until he landed his deal with the Steelers.

The former third-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Browns, starting 47 of his 60 games while collecting 180 tackles and 14.5 sacks. He inked a one-year deal with the Bengals last offseason and had one of the most productive seasons of his career. In 16 starts, the the 28-year-old collected 49 tackles and a career-high seven sacks.

Meanwhile, we’ve got some details on Ogunjobi’s deal with Pittsburgh. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), the defensive tackle got a one-year contract that can be worth up to $8MM. It’s uncertain what incentives Ogunjobi will have to meet, but considering his foot issues, there’s a good chance it’s tied to games played.

Going For Two: Chaz Green & Kendrick Green

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It’s Day 12 of Going For Two, featuring Chaz Green and Kendrick Green

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Chaz Green

NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Steelers at Eagles
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Tackle
Age: 30
Year: 5
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 318
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 91, 2015 (Dallas Cowboys)
College: Florida
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in

After spending the majority of his rookie season on the PUP list, Chaz Green did not appear in a game his first year in Dallas. Through three seasons, he logged a total of 18 games with six starts. Failing to make the Cowboys in 2018, Green landed in New Orleans but never appeared in a game when he was cut a month later. Finishing the year with the Oakland Raiders, Green appeared in four games with one start. Not making a team in 2019, Green landed in Indianapolis for 2020 and played in 15 games with one start. On the Steelers practice squad for 2021, Green was called up for two games but only logged a total of four special teams stats. Based on the résumé, Chaz Green is a player that brings NFL experience. But at 30 years old, he is merely a death piece and not a project for the future. For this reason, Green is unlikely to make the 53-man roster and would have to show his worth to even make the Steelers practice squad.

Kendrick Green

Chicago Bears v Pittsburgh Steelers
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Center
Age: 23
Year: 2
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 315
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 87, 2021
College: Illinois
Roster Outlook: Lock

Appearing in 15 games his rookie season, Kendrick Green started all of them at center for the Steelers. Logging 977 snaps on offense, Green struggled a lot with inconsistent play. With the addition of Mason Cole through free agency this offseason, Green has to fight for a starting position for 2022. Whether it be at center or guard, Green will have the opportunity to win a job or else will be relegated to reserve duty for the interior of the offensive line. If Green makes a big jump in year two, it will be interesting to see if it’s enough to land a starting job.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Steelers, DT Larry Ogunjobi Agree To Deal

Larry Ogunjobi is now one team short of the AFC North cycle. The former Browns and Bengals defensive tackle met with the Steelers on Tuesday, and the visit produced an agreement.

The sixth-year veteran agreed to a one-year deal with the Steelers, Adam Schefter of tweets. This addition comes not long after longtime Steelers defensive line starter Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement. The Steelers have since announced the signing.

For Ogunjobi, this represents an end to his lengthy free agency stay. The veteran starter reached an agreement to join the Bears earlier this offseason, but an issue with his physical nixed the deal. Ogunjobi, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Bengals’ wild-card win over the Raiders, then spent the next three months looking for another gig.

The Jets also hosted Ogunjobi as well, but the Steelers will make him part of their post-Tuitt equation. Pittsburgh used Chris Wormley extensively in place of Tuitt last season, one the stalwart D-lineman missed all of due to an injury and the mourning of his brother’s recent death. The Steelers struggled to stop the run, ranking last in that department in 2021. They have now added Ogunjobi and third-round D-lineman DeMarvin Leal this offseason, though Tuitt walking away before his 30th birthday could still sting.

This Pittsburgh agreement almost certainly is far off the pact Ogunjobi had in place with Chicago (three years, $40.5MM). On that end, this offseason represents a major blow for the 28-year-old defender. The former Browns third-round pick entered free agency for the first time when the salary cap plummeted due to the pandemic and saw a lingering injury harpoon a lucrative contract a year later. That will make Ogunjobi’s Steelers work pivotal for his future earning potential. There is a real possibility Ogunjobi will never see a better offer than the one the Bears made in March, but the Charlotte alum will benefit from playing opposite perennial Pro Bowler Cam Heyward this season.

Playing on a line featuring Trey Hendrickson last year, Ogunjobi recorded a career-high seven sacks and 16 quarterback hits. Ogunjobi, who spent the first four seasons of his career on primarily Myles Garrett-led lines, registered 5.5 sacks in both the 2018 and ’19 seasons. The Steelers have led the NFL in sacks five years running, and they secured the services of a solid supporting-cast talent for their 2022 iteration.

DT Larry Ogunjobi To Visit Steelers

One of the top defenders still on the open market is making another visit today. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi is being hosted by the Steelers. 

The 28-year-old had a three-year, $40.5MM contract in place with the Bears at the onset of free agency. However, days later, a failed physical led to the deal falling through. The injury was suffered in Cincinnati’s Wild Card win over the Raiders, which ended Ogunjobi‘s one-year stint with the Bengals.

The contract he played on – worth $6.2MM – was a relative bargain for the eventual AFC champions, considering his production. Ogunjobi totalled 49 tackles and a career-high seven sacks, continuing his consistent statistical output from his time in Cleveland. With the former third-rounder presumed to be on his way to Chicago, the Bengals pivoted to B.J. Hill, signing him to a three-year extension.

Last month, Ogunjobi visited the Jets, a team which, like Cincinnati last year, has made a number of moves this offseason to bolster its defense. That didn’t result in a deal, though, leaving open the possibility for the Charlotte alum to make a second straight move within the AFC North.

Ogunjobi would be a welcomed addition along Pittsburgh’s defensive line. The team lost Stephon Tuitt to retirement this offseason, leaving an opening for a starting-caliber addition. It had been reported recently, on the other hand, that the Steelers were essentially content at the DL and CB positions, planning to spread Tuitt’s workload around to a number of incumbents. Ogunjobi would fill a significant void, and pair well with Cam Heyward along the team’s defensive interior, as it looks to rebound from last season’s disappointing performance against the run in particular.

Steelers Not Seeking Outside Additions At CB, DL

This offseason has seen a number of changes on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers, leaving questions being asked at the cornerback and defensive line positions in particular. However, as detailed by Mark Kaboly of the Athletic (subscription required), the team is looking to internal options to fill important roles at those spots. 

The CB room includes, as Kaboly states, a number of complimentary players, such as a former third-rounders Ahkello Witherspoon and Cameron Sutton. The latter took on a much larger workload in 2022, playing over 1,000 snaps for the first time in his career. Pittsburgh also added former Bill Levi Wallace in free agency, giving them another consistent, starting-caliber member of the secondary.

The unit has lost a familiar face in veteran Joe Haden, who was reported to be on the way out earlier this offseason. On that point, Kaboly confirms that the Steelers “have shown no interest” in a reunion with the 33-year-old. Lacking an established No. 1 at the position, Kaboly reports that team nevertheless appears willing to “ride with what they have,” leaning on their elite pass rush.

Their front seven suffered a substantial loss as well, though, after the retirement of Stephon TuittThat leaves the team in need of a new starter along the defensive line, which should lead to an increased workload for Tyson Alualu. The 35-year-old played only two games in 2021 because of an ankle injury, but he has provided consistent rotational play throughout his career. Kaboly also names Chris Wormley as an incumbent in line for more snaps. The former Raven recorded a career-high seven sacks last year, but was also part of the reason Pittsburgh gave up a league-worst 146 yards per game on the ground. Recent draftees Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal will feature in the d-line rotation as well.

This late in the offseason, the Steelers, like all teams, are essentially set at the top of their roster. While their defense still features the likes of T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, internal progress will need to be made at the front and backends of the unit if it is to help lead the team to another playoff berth.

Latest On Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kenny Pickett Contracts

In terms of overall structure, the extension that the Steelers recently authorized for star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is fairly straightforward. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Fitzpatrick landed a $21.5MM signing bonus, and from 2022-26, the two-time First Team All-Pro will earn base salaries of $4MM, $14.5MM, $14.5MM, $15.5MM, and $17.6MM.

What is particularly notable in light of Pittsburgh’s historic approach to contract negotiations is that, in addition to guaranteeing Fitzpatrick’s $4MM salary for 2022, his $14.5MM salary for 2023 is also fully-guaranteed. Before edge defender T.J. Watt signed his record-setting extension last year, the Steelers had never guaranteed any money beyond a contract’s first year for a non-QB veteran player. But Watt landed three fully-guaranteed years, and now Fitzpatrick has two fully-guaranteed seasons.

Former GM Kevin Colbert was at the helm when Watt’s deal was signed, and the Fitzpatrick signing will go on new GM Omar Khan‘s ledger. Khan, like Colbert, has been in the Steelers’ front office for over 20 years, so as Florio suggests, the Watt contract was not so much an aberration as it was a sign of an organizational policy shift.

Still, Fitzpatrick’s deal shouldn’t be particularly difficult for Pittsburgh to stomach. There is every reason to believe that the 25-year-old will continue to play at a high level over the 2022-23 seasons, and if the team does not want to continue the relationship beyond that, it will be easy enough to get out of the remainder of the contract. Given that the Steelers’ QB depth chart presently features a rookie signal-caller (Kenny Pickett), a former first-rounder looking to reestablish himself as a starter (Mitchell Trubisky), and a player who has enjoyed limited success in his first four years as a pro (Mason Rudolph), it will be especially important for their defensive stars to keep shining for them to to stay competitive in the near term.

Speaking of Pickett, the University of Pittsburgh product is one of just two 2022 first-rounders who have yet to sign their rookie deals. And it could be that he is pushing the Steelers to set yet another new precedent. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes, the structure of Pickett’s four-year, $14MM fully-guaranteed contract is really the only explanation for the delay. Many rookies push for higher roster bonuses and lower base salaries so they can get paid more money upfront, but the Steelers have never authorized that type of payout. It will be interesting to see if they make an exception for the player they hope will serve as their starting quarterback for years to come, and if so, how that will impact negotiations with future draft choices.

Latest On Diontae Johnson’s Contract Status

With the record-setting extension for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick having officially been taken care of, the next major financial task to attend to for the Steelers is a second contract for wideout Diontae Johnson. As detailed by Mark Kaboly of the Athletic (subscription required), Pittsburgh will not deviate from their established procedures to get a deal done. 

[RELATED: Steelers Yet To Offer Extension To Johnson]

As Kaboly writes, Fitzpatrick was, understandably, deemed a higher priority for the team’s front office. New general manager Omar Khan demonstrated his willingness to make a sizeable financial commitment to the two-time All-Pro, but the same may not be true to the same extent in Johnson’s case.

Waiting until this period of the offseason is in line with standard financial planning for the Steelers, so it should come as little surprise that extension talks “will start soon,” per Kaboly. He is quick to add, however, that the team “won’t deviate much” from their internal valuation of Johnson once serious negotiations begin.

The former third-rounder has established himself as the Steelers’ top pass-catcher, increasing his production during each of his three seasons in the league. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in 2021, which led to his first Pro Bowl invite. That makes him the latest in a long line of Pittsburgh wideouts who have earned lucrative second contracts, but it remains to be seen if his will come from the Steelers, as few have in years past.

After JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington left in free agency this offseason, the team added George Pickens and Calvin Austin III in the draft. Johnson will stay atop the depth chart into 2022, but new faces in the front office could lead to a lower-valued contract offer than Johnson may presently expect.

The 25-year-old could seek, as other high-profile 2019 draftees have already, a deal which eclipses the $20MM-per-year mark; the skyrocketing WR market has seen the number of players earning that figure rise to 11. Kaboly posits that Johnson could be assured of an extension if he aims for the $16-18MM range, placing him one tier below the top wideouts.

With plenty of time still remaining between now and the start of the season – which is already known as the unofficial deadline for a deal to be worked out – this situation becoming the central focus for Pittsburgh should make it the top story to follow in the short-term.

Steelers To Re-Sign Minkah Fitzpatrick

The Steelers have reached agreement on an extension with All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrickper ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). He is signing a four-year contract which will pay him an average of $18.4MM per year. 

Schefter adds that the pact includes $36MM in guaranteed money. The deal comes as the 25-year-old was soon to begin a contract year in 2022. He was already on the books for one more season at $10.6MM, by virtue of his fifth-year option being picked up. Now, he is set be with the Steelers for the long-term.

Fitzpatrick quickly lived up to his draft stock as the No. 11 overall pick in 2018 with the Dolphins. His time in Miami was very short lived, however, as he was dealt to Pittsburgh midway through the 2019 campaign. The Steelers paid a significant price to acquire him, sending a package which included a first-rounder, but Fitzpatrick has been worth it up to this point. Starting in all 46 contests he has appeared in with Pittsburgh, he has registered 203 tackles and 11 interceptions.

His level of play has earned him a pair of Pro Bowl nods and two appearances on the First-Team All-Pro list. As a result, the matter of an extension had long been seen as one of the top priorities for the Steelers’ front office, now led by Omar Khan. The possibility was raised of the Alabama alum conducting a ‘hold-in’ during mandatory minicamp to try and leverage a new deal, but that will no longer be necessary.

The value of this contract will make Fitzpatrick the league’s all-time highest-paid safety. Jamal Adams had held the top spot at $17.5MM-per-season, but this deal is the new watermark in a positional market which could continue to be on the rise with subsequent deals. Extensions for the likes of Derwin James and Jessie Bates will no doubt be influenced by this one.

“Minkah is one of the top safeties in the NFL and we are thrilled he will be in Pittsburgh through at least the next five years” Khan said, via the team’s website“When we traded for him, we knew he was going to be an integral part of our defense and we look forward to that continuing as we prepare for the upcoming season.”

With fellow defensive pillar T.J. Watt under contract for the long-term already, the Steelers have another foundational player signed through the transition into the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. While questions remain on the offensive side of the ball heading into this season, the team’s pass defense will have one of its most important elements in place for the foreseeable future.