The Pittsburgh Steelers continued being active today in free agency, agreeing to terms with former Miami Dolphins inside linebacker Elandon Roberts. Roberts has played in the NFL for seven years, splitting his time between the New England Patriots and Dolphins.
Despite helping fill out a thin linebacker room in Pittsburgh, Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton is not high on the move, giving the signing a grade of “C.”
“Roberts can provide run support on early downs and blitz effectively on the passing downs. In 2022, he led the Dolphins in tackles (107) and also logged career-highs in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (10),” wrote Moton. “On the flip side, Roberts isn’t reliable when matched up against pass-catchers. He allowed an 80 percent completion rate and a 121.9 passer rating in coverage last season.”
After the report of the Steelers signing Roberts, Pittsburgh cut linebacker Myles Jack, signaling that the Steelers want to go in another direction at linebacker with only Mark Robinson returning from the 2022 unit. The current linebacker unit is filled with a bunch of run stoppers, and the linebackers on the roster are not known for their pass coverage ability.
Pittsburgh’s lack of a coverage linebacker on the roster is probably where the not-so-kind grade comes from. Despite this, the move still make sense. Given the release of Jack, the Steelers linebacker corps would have just been Cole Holcomb and Mark Robinson. Even with the Steelers likely drafting a player at that position, you can’t walk into a season with three inside linebackers, one of them being a rookie. Despite the three linebackers being primarily run stoppers, you still need the depth. That is why Roberts was added. While he can win a starting spot, he gives the team a little bit of room to breath.
Pittsburgh will at some point address its need for a coverage linebacker. As of right now it doesn’t look great that there is one on the roster, but it will get sorted out — either by another signing or in the NFL Draft. My guess is if the Steelers had brought in a linebacker who is better in coverage than Holcomb or Robinson, the signing of Roberts would look a lot better and receive a better grade.
Just because a need hasn’t been addressed yet doesn’t mean that it won’t be. Don’t knock a team because it hasn’t addressed something on only the second day of the new league year. Depth is important, and it doesn’t matter when it is acquired.