Bengals signing Orlando Brown Jr. was a gut-punch for Steelers fans
The Cincinnati Bengals' biggest move in free agency to this point was signing Orlando Brown Jr. to a four-year deal. In doing so, they ensured that the Pittsburgh Steelers wouldn't be getting their hands on him.
The Steelers had been said to be interested in Brown and missing out on him was rough on the fans. For more on Pittsburgh's offseason so far, I reached out to Tommy Jaggi of Still Curtain (FanSided's Steelers site) to get his thoughts on everything that has gone down, ranging from the Bengals stealing Brown away from them to the cap situation in the Steel City.
Q&A with Steelers site expert
Q: What were the biggest needs for the Steelers to address in free agency and have they checked off those boxes?
A: The Steelers entered free agency looking to retain some of their high-profile players while finding help along the offensive line and the defensive trenches. Though they lost Cameron Sutton to the Lions, they filled a void at cornerback with a stop-gap player in Patrick Peterson.
On offense, the Steelers added two guards in Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, while retaining former Bengals DL Larry Ogunjob. Pittsburgh also added a pair of linebackers. While they didn't land any stars, they at least covered their bases with their free agent additions.
Q: What remains the biggest frustration for the Steelers so far in free agency?
A: Missing out on Orlando Brown Jr. was a bit frustrating. It's hard to tell how close the Steelers were to signing him, but he would have been a big improvement over Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle. Apart from that, most fans were frustrated with the decision not to match the offer to retain Cameron Sutton, as he was their best cornerback in 2022. Personally, I would have preferred to get younger at the CB position if the Steelers were going to spend in free agency.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise for the Steelers in free agency, if anything?
A: I knew the Steelers were going to value the offensive line under the direction of GM Omar Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl, but I didn't know just how much. Despite signing two interior offensive linemen in free agency in 2022, Pittsburgh's front office signed a pair of guards this offseason to beef up the trenches even more. Isaac Seumalo was one of the better guards in the league last year, so this should give them a significant boost over LG Kevin Dotson.
Q: How is the Steelers' cap situation looking after the first week of free agency?
A: The Steelers are sitting pretty well when it comes to salary cap space, though Seumalo's contract hasn't been accounted for yet, according to Over the Cap. They will still need plenty of cap to sign their 2023 rookie class and they typically like to carry $6-8 million into the season in the event of injuries. I think they are just about done with any splash moves, barring another contract restructure by the front office to clear up additional cap space.
Q: Is there a move the Bengals made this offseason that Steelers fans are worried about?
A: There are mixed reviews when it comes to Cincinnati's addition of Orlando Brown Jr., but I was not a fan of that move. I think the Bengals got a significant upgrade over Jonah Williams at left tackle. One of the biggest issues with Cincinnati has been their offensive line and protecting Joe Burrow. This was a big-time, no-nonsense move that will help a lot in that regard.
Thanks again to Tommy for taking the time to talk with me and answer my questions! Be sure to check out Still Curtain ahead of whenever the Bengals and Steelers face off in 2023.