2023 Steelers Exit Interviews: Broderick Jones and Chuks Okorafor
The Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2024.
Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, and the fact I have done these articles in the past, we thought we would do the same here at Steel Curtain Network. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin has previously stated he starts his interviews with rookies and those heading into free agency, we will attempt to do the same to some degree. To start, we will pair the most recent draftees with another player at the same position (if possible) as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.
First up are offensive tackles Broderick Jones and Chuks Okorafor.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 1
Contract Status: Signed through 2026 with a possible 5th-year option
Contract Details: $3,778,719 salary cap hit for 2024. Would cost the Steelers $13,603,389 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2023: 17 regular season
Games started in 2023: 11 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 767 (offense), 60 (special teams)
PFF score: 57.3 (62nd of 83)
Notable stats: Jones had two penalties called on him in 2023. According to PFF he surrendered 5 sacks and 34 total QB pressures.
Notes: Jones got a spot start for an injured Dan Moore in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens and I did not expect him to give up the starting position from that point on based on how well he played. But the Steelers thought otherwise and finally brought Jones in on the right side against Tennessee in Week 9. Exactly what Jones was projected to be seems to be how his rookie season went. He was suitable for either side of the offensive line but had raw athleticism which could be an issue in pass protection. Otherwise, Jones had a decent rookie year with a bright future ahead of him. Whether it will be on the left side or right side in 2024 remains to be seen, but the biggest issue may be shoring up his pass protection before being asked to protect the quarterback’s blindside. On the flip side, Jones highest graded game according to PFF was his single start at left tackle.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Years with the Steelers: 6
Years in the NFL: 6
Contract Status: Signed through 2024
Contract Details: $11,833,334 salary cap hit for 2024. Would cost the Steelers $3,083,334 in dead money if released and save $8,750,000.
Games played in 2023: 14 regular season
Games started in 2023: 7 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 437 (offense)
PFF score: 60.4 (56th of 83)
Notable stats: Okorafor had eight penalties called on him in 2023, five of which was declined or offsetting. According to PFF he surrendered 2 sacks and 11 total QB pressures.
Notes: Despite being under contract for next season, Okorafor very well may be on his way out of Pittsburgh. Losing his starting job in Week 9, it was reported Okorafor said some things which made the Steelers pull the trigger on getting their first-round draft pick as a regular in the starting lineup. It also seems Okorafor has issues with keeping his mouth shut as his comments following the season about not signing in Pittsburgh if he wasn’t going to be a starter. Frankly, Okorafor was signed to be a starter but hasn’t been good enough to keep from being upgraded. The Steelers should not be looking for offensive tackle play at the level Okorafor has given for the price, and his huge cap hit for this coming year does not reflect his potential usage. For this reason, I don’t see Okorafor on the Steelers come the beginning of the 2024 league year.
Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews.