Steelers Pegged to Potentially Poach Rival Star LB

The Pittsburgh Steelers may not be in position to make a luxury signing this offseason. After all, they have just $9.5 million in cap space according to Spotrac. But if Steelers general manager Omar Khan finds enough financial flexibility, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly argued that Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Queen should be a free agent target for Pittsburgh.

Mike Tomlin John Harbaugh Patrick Queen

On March 5, Kaboly called Queen “the ultimate luxury signing” for the Steelers.

“While it might seem far-fetched, never say never with Khan. The Steelers have struggled to find a reliable inside linebacker since Ryan Shazier’s injury in 2017, and Queen would be a perfect fit,” Kaboly wrote. “With Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander coming off serious injuries (Alexander is also a free agent) and Mark Robinson struggling to take the step from special teamer to starter, the need is clear.

“Queen has never missed a game in his career and has averaged 114 tackles per season.”

Although Queen has been a star for years, he made his first Pro Bowl during the 2023 season. He also made second-team All-Pro last season.

In 2023, he posted a career-high 133 combined tackles, including 9 tackles for loss and 6 quarterback hits. Queen also had 6 pass defenses, 3.5 sacks and 1 interception.

Why LB Patrick Queen Could Be the ‘Ultimate Luxury Signing’ for Steelers

The Ravens losing Queen to any of the other 31 teams would be a great thing for the Steelers (except maybe if he signed with the Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals). But Queen joining the Steelers would be a double whammy for Pittsburgh’s biggest rival.

Baltimore drafted Queen at No. 28 overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, and he was a perfect fit immediately. Queen started 16 games as a rookie, posting 106 combined tackles with 10 quarterback hits, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

As Kaboly noted, Queen has never missed a game in his career. He’s finished all four of his NFL seasons with at least 98 combined tackles and 9 tackles for loss. And he’s coming off his best season as he reaches free agency.

PFF ranked Queen the best inside linebacker set to be available in NFL free agency this offseason. PFF also rated Queen the 20th-best player in this year’s free agency class.

The Steelers haven’t had an inside linebacker make the Pro Bowl since Ryan Shazier in 2017.

Could the Steelers Target LB Jerome Baker Instead?

Kaboly also listed inside linebackers Devin White and Zach Cunningham as potential free agent targets for the Steelers. But a new possible target surfaced on March 5 when the Miami Dolphins released Jerome Baker.

After Baker’s release, Kaboly predicted the former Dolphins linebacker to become an immediate target for Pittsburgh.

“Would not be stunned if Steelers bring in Jerome Baker at ILB,” Kaboly wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Actually, I’d say there is a good chance.”

Baker hasn’t made the Pro Bowl in his six-year career, but he’s posted 78 combined tackles or more every year. He’s reached 100 tackles in three seasons as well.

The 27-year-old is also familiar with current Steelers inside linebacker Elandon Roberts. Baker and Roberts played together with the Dolphins from 2020-22.

With Roberts and Baker starting every game in 2022, Miami featured a top-5 run defense.

If the Steelers signed Baker, both former Dolphins could start for the Steelers at least until Cole Holcomb returns. Baker wouldn’t provide the same luxury as Queen, but he’d be cheaper too.

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