Larry Ogunjobi’s ‘Gonna Feel More And More Comfortable’ In Scheme, Heyward Says, Sees DL ‘Building Something Special’
If the Pittsburgh Steelers felt that all Larry Ogunjobi was on the field is what he was able to show last season, then it seems rather unlikely they would have given much consideration to signing him to the deal that they have.
While the full details are not yet known, the base value comes in at more than $9 million per season and is said to be front-loaded, slightly uncommon for Pittsburgh. But they obviously feel it’s worth it because they expect he will be better in his second year in Pittsburgh, healthier and more comfortable with what they’re asking him to do.
Cameron Heyward thinks the same thing, calling his retention “huge” when discussing the move on Not Just Football, his podcast. “I’m excited to just keep growing with him, building something special. I think he’s just gonna feel more and more comfortable in this scheme and he is gonna benefit from it”, he said.
A 2017 third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Ogunjobi spent his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns where he was identified as a young up-and-coming talent. That talent showed out during his one season in 2021 with the Cincinnati Bengals, and he turned that into a three-year, $40.5 million offer from the Chicago Bears in free agency.
It was a huge deal that included nearly as much in guarantees as his current deal is worth overall. But the Bears failed him on his physical and rescinded the offer as he continued to rehab a foot injury he suffered in the postseason.
He ultimately took a one-year, $8 million ‘prove-it’ deal in Pittsburgh to replace Stephon Tuitt, who had just announced his retirement. He provided some stability after that curveball, but now he has the potential to be more than just a transitional guy.
“We have been tinkering with the d-line since Tuitt was gone, and having [Chris] Wormley has been great, hopefully we can bring him back, too, but having a guy like Larry Ogunjobi back is huge”, Heyward said. “I was talking to him yesterday and he was just like, for the past couple years he packs a bookbag and just moves on to the next team. He actually has a home now”.
The New Jersey native will turn 29 years old later this season, so he will be in his age-32 season the next opportunity he might have to hit the open market. And this time, that contract is signed, sealed, and delivered, so there’s no going back now.
Ogunjobi only missed one game in his first season with the Steelers last year, even though he battled ailments of varying significant throughout the season. He turned in 48 tackles with seven tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits, but only ended up with 1.5 sacks. He is certainly capable of finishing more of those plays, and should be successful in doing so over the next three years.