Steelers Encouraged to Make Big Free Agency Splash: ‘I’d Pay’

The Pittsburgh Steelers experienced problems at inside linebacker again in 2023. To fix the issue, two former Steelers linebackers proposed the possibility of the team addressing the need once more in free agency — this time with Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowler Patrick Queen.

Patrick Queen

“I’d pay for Patrick Queen,” former NFL linebacker Terence Garvin said to his former teammate Arthur Moats. “I like Patrick Queen. I’m a Patrick Queen fan.”

Moats and his co-host suggested the idea to Garvin during an episode of The Arthur Moats Experience With Deke Podcast on January 25. Moats and Garvin played together for the Steelers from 2014-15.

Signing Queen, who made second-team All-Pro in 2023, would be a major upgrade for the Steelers at inside linebacker. But it won’t be a cheap signing.

Pro Football Focus projected the 24-year-old linebacker to receive a four-year, $72.5 million contract. Such a deal would pay Queen an average annual salary of $18.13 million per season.

Spotrac predicted a similar value for Queen on an average annual basis. But Spotrac projected Queen to receive a five-year contract worth about $92.6 million.

How Patrick Queen Could Fit With the Steelers

Queen has experienced a successful first four NFL seasons with the Ravens. That’s likely enough to convince a lot of Steelers fans to target him in free agency.

For one, Baltimore losing the linebacker will weaken Pittsburgh’s top rival. But historically, the Steelers and Ravens have both had great defenses behind physical linebacker play.

The Steelers, though, have fallen on hard times a bit at inside linebacker. Trading up for Devin Bush in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft didn’t work out. Last offseason, the Steelers signed three quality free agents — Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts and Kwon Alexander.

Those signings greatly improved Pittsburgh’s linebacker room but for only half a season. Holcomb and Alexander suffered season-ending injuries at the beginning of November.

Therefore, Queen’s durability will likely appeal to the Steelers. He has never missed a game in his four-year career. Queen has also averaged 113.5 total tackles and more than 9 tackles for loss per season. In four years, he’s had 33 quarterback hits, 13.5 sacks and 4 interceptions as well.

Pairing Queen with either Holcomb or Roberts, both of whom are under contract for 2024, will give the Steelers a much-improved linebacker duo.

Could the Steelers Afford Queen?

There’s little doubt that Queen would be a great fit in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the Steelers could afford him.

Even Garvin had that question after saying he’d pay for Queen.

“I might not be able to afford that,” Garvin said of Queen while pretending to be Pittsburgh’s general manager. “I gotta put my money in other places. I gotta get that line together.”

The Steelers aren’t currently in position to make free agency splashes at any position. Spotrac projected the team to be more than $14.2 million over the salary cap as of January 27.

Pittsburgh could open significant salary cap space with some obvious cuts to begin the offseason. But if Queen really receives offers that pay him $18 million per season, he will likely be out of the team’s price range.

With an average annual salary of more than $18 million per season, Queen will become one of the top three highest paid players at his position. Only fellow Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith and San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner make more than $18 million per season.

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