A lot of the focus thus far this season for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been on their offensive production, or lack thereof. Pittsburgh’s offense has been tough to watch through two weeks being led by Mitchell Trubisky running a Matt Canada offense.
Despite that, the team is 1-1 mostly on the back of their defense. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been performing like the star he was paid to be this off-season. But, they could use some reinforcements on that side of the ball.
All-world pass rusher T.J. Watt got off to another hot start in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had six tackles, three of which went for a loss, with a sack, interception and two passes defended. However, he was hurt near the end of regulation, injuring his pectoral.
He will be sidelined for at least six weeks and the impact was felt right away. The New England Patriots were able to keep Mac Jones clean, as he was not sacked by the Steelers in their Week 2 matchup and was only hit three times.
Without Watt commanding attention, the Patriots were able to successfully block up the rest of the pass rushers. Pittsburgh needs someone to step up with Watt sidelined, but they could also look outside the organization for some help.
One suggested target is Clelin Ferrell of the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders, during the Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock era, shocked everyone when they selected Ferrell with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Ferrell quickly turned into a rotational player for Las Vegas, as he plays just over a quarter of the defensive snaps and half of the special teams snaps this season. Last season, despite playing in 16 games, Ferrell was on the field for only 24 percent of the defensive snaps.
He has been outperformed by Maxx Crosby, a fourth-round in that year’s draft who is producing as you would expect someone selected No. 4 overall to be. Without a future in Las Vegas, Ferrell is someone that the Steelers could probably acquire on the cheap to bolster the depth of their defense.
A late-round pick, likely a sixth-rounder, should be enough to get a deal done as the new regime in Las Vegas would take any kind of draft compensation for a player they seemingly have no plans on keeping long-term. On an expiring contract, it would be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for Pittsburgh.
If he performs well, the Steelers may be able to work out an affordable extension for him. If he continues struggling to make an impact, they can just let him walk as a free agent in 2023 as his fifth-year option was declined this offseason.