Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: DL Larry Ogunjobi
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The veteran defensive end is reportedly set to re-sign with the Steelers after playing the 2022 season in Pittsburgh. He received a healthy three-year deal paying him nearly in line with the deal that he lost out on a year ago on the open market.
Although not made official yet, as of this writing, I feel safer discussing re-signings of a team’s own free agents before the start of the new league year than I am about outside signings. That’s why I haven’t gotten to cornerback Patrick Peterson yet, for example—although I did discuss Cameron Sutton leaving already, but we’ll ignore that for now.
Larry Ogunjobi signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Steelers last season for $8 million after he lost out on a multi-year deal that was to pay him over $10 million annually with the Chicago Bears. He did not pass Chicago’s physical after agreeing to terms, and in turn they rescinded the offer.
Evidently the Steelers feel that Ogunjobi proved whatever he needed to prove, because they’re reportedly set to re-sign him on a three-year, $28.75 million contract. That’s a fairly robust offer, more than most I believe anticipated that he would get, after a statistically pedestrian season on the black and gold.
Logging 636 snaps with 16 starts in 16 games played, Ogunjobi recorded 48 tackles for the Steelers last season, including seven for loss. He only had a sack and a half, one coming in the season finale against his former team, the Cleveland Browns. He did not have any other statistics, beyond 11 quarterback hits. He’s never been a bat-down guy, with just two passes defensed in his career.
But a sack and a half is his worst production since he became a starter. He’d had at least 5.5 in three of the previous four seasons, including seven the year before the Steelers signed him. Pittsburgh must trust that they will be getting a healthier and more productive Ogunjobi on this new deal.
He does flash a lot when you watch him and he’s at his best, leaving one to wonder how much of an impact his injuries last season affected his performance. His main test in justifying this new deal will be maintaining a consistent level of play.
It will be interesting to see what the final numbers look like, as not even details on a signing bonus have been reported as of this writing. All we know is that $21.75 is supposed to be paid in the first two years, meaning that the third year pays out $7 million. But is anything in year two guaranteed? And how big is the signing bonus? That will tell us whether or not they can easily get out of this deal after one year.