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Steelers Free Agent Targets: Defensive Line

With the new league year of the NFL starting March 13 at 4:00pm, teams are getting ready to make major roster moves. Just like every other team, the Pittsburgh Steelers have room for improvement in many positions on their roster. This is the first part of a series that will highlight some free agents I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers should target for the 2024 season, starting with the defensive line.

With Cameron Heyward most likely playing his final few seasons and Larry Ogunjobi not playing up to the level that is expected, the Steelers may look to throw some big money at a dominant player on the defensive line to play along side the rising star in Keanu Benton. Some big name players to keep an eye on:

Christian Wilkins

Christian Wilkins is athletic, versatile and a problem for offenses. Wilkins has been dominant against the run as he led all interior defensive linemen in tackles in 2022 with 98, which was an NFL record until this past season, and has recently improved dramatically in his ability to rush the quarterback reaching career bests 23 quarterback hits and 9 sacks in 2023. Also in 2023 Wilkins had 65 Tackles, 38 solo, 1 Forced Fumble, 2 Fumble Recoveries, 2 Pass Defended. Wilkins will be one of the most highly sought after defensive linemen in free agency, and his price tag will reflect that. “Christian is one of the most respected guys in that locker room, He works his tail off everyday. He’s probably the hardest worker on the Miami Dolphins… everybody loves him.” – Tyreek Hill. That is the type of player I would have no problem paying top dollar for.

DJ Reader

I know, I know… he played for the enemy, but a good player is a good player. DJ Reader was voted a team captain each of the past two seasons and was crowned the Bengals “most consistent player” by defensive coordinator Lou Anrumo. Last season, Reader had 34 Tackles, 16 Solo, 1 Sack, 1 Fumble Recovery, 1 Pass Defended before tearing his quad in week 15. His injury may impact what his market value is which may benefit the team that signs him. Due to his injury, Reader’s pay day may not be as high as it might have been pre injury. In the 2021 & 2022 seasons, lead by Reader, the Bengals defense was ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game. In 2021 Reader was a part of an impressive Bengals defense who ultimately made it to the Super Bowl but fell short to the Los Angeles Rams.

Either of these players can set the Steelers defensive line up for success for years to come. I expect Keeanu Benton to continue to improve on a fantastic rookie season; pairing Benton with another stud in his prime can pay off big time for the Black and Gold. I’m ready to see a Steelers defense be dominant once again.

Continue to check out The Steel Curtain Network for all of your Pittsburgh Steelers news and updates.

Stay Blessed and Stay Positive… “Here We Go”


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