Pittsburgh Steelers: Grading big free agent signings so far

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Tyson Alualu, Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have always prioritized building through the draft and retaining their own talent and have done so again in a quiet offseason so far.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the stories of the season as they marched their way to a 11-0 record that had some convinced they could be true title contenders. The cracks started to show as they had to endure a brutal stretch of playing three games in 13 days thanks to games being rescheduled due to COVID and they lost four of their last five to finish 12-4.

For most teams a 12-4 regular season would have been a massive achievement but the Steelers lost momentum at the end of the season and the true collapse came  in the playoffs when they were humbled by the Cleveland Browns, 48-37. It was the most points the Steelers had ever given up in the playoffs and it was clear some changes had to be made.

Until this point, hamstrung by cap issues and some massive salaries, the Steelers have kept things quiet and have stuck to their usual approach of building quietly in free agency with eyes for the NFL Draft. Let’s analyze the moves they’ve made to flesh out the roster.

Tyson Alualu, DT/NT (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Grade: A+

In one of the wilder stories of free agency, Tyson Alualu looked all set to return to the team that drafted him in 2010, the Jacksonville Jaguars, on a two-year deal worth $6 million. The terms were agreed to but the deal was not official and at some point, Alualu got cold feet and chose to reup with the Pittsburgh Steelers instead.

Alualu is a prototypical nose tackle that does not rack up a ton of stats but has tremendous value to a defense with his ability to plug the middle, push back the line of scrimmage, and draw double teams. He was an impact player for the Steelers in 2020 and while it is a small sample size, in the two games he missed they gave up 144 and 265 yards, respectively, compared to their season average of 111.4.

There is no real downside to bringing back Alualu as he was a big part of their dominant defense in 2020 and helps make everyone around him better. We can assume that he will sign a deal similar to what he was offered by Jacksonville but the details of the contract have not been made official.

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