Most of the Steelers moves in free agency under Omar Khan thus far have been pretty easy to understand thus far. But this week has brought some head-scratchers.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed, the Steelers signed free agent defensive tackle Armon Watts. A few days later the Steelers announced that they had cut outside linebacker Jamir Jones, just a few weeks after extending an restricted free agent offer.
The Watts’ signing is a bit of a surprise, given that the Steelers have already signed Breiden Fehoko who is also a fellow defensive tackle. As Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, points out, this double dip on the part of the Steelers is understandable given that they’re basically replacing Chris Wormley and Tyson Alualu two free agents who won’t be back.
- What’s more puzzling is the decision to cut Jamir Jones.
Jamir Jones was the only experienced outside linebacker behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. And if it’s true the Jones coming in to spell Watt and/or Highsmith for an extended period would have left opposing offensive coordinators licking their chops, he did play nearly 60% of special teams snaps.
- Are the Steelers signaling that another free agent signing at outside linebacker is imminent?
Perhaps Pittsburgh’s about to come to terms with Bud Dupree? Time will tell.
Thus far Omar Khan has basically followed the path Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin blazed in free agency of shoring up depth in key areas to avoid a situation where they need to reach to fill a need.
- Moreover, these signings have come positions which can be cost-effectively addressed in free agency.
Still, it is a little peculiar that Omar Khan would sign two guards and two interior defensive lineman while leaving the cupboard bear behind the Steelers starters at outside linebacker and offensive tackle – even if those positions expensive to fill via free agency.
With that said, with experience playing for the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, Armon Watts has experience in 57 games, has made 22 starts in which he’s logged 8 sacks and forced 3 fumbles. Assuming he’s arriving in Pittsburgh at or near the veteran minimum he could be a good value signing.