Steelers Rival’s All-Pro Floated as Potential Cameron Heyward Replacement - Sport News

Steelers Rival’s All-Pro Floated as Potential Cameron Heyward Replacement

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t in the best salary cap situation this offseason, but they also aren’t set to lose any starters. That’s not the case for two of Pittsburgh’s division rivals, who are in an even bigger salary cap hole. In the case of the Baltimore Ravens, they could lose breakout defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

Cameron Heyward Justin Madubuike

But what’s better for the Steelers than Madubuike leaving Baltimore in free agency? The Steelers signing Madubuike themselves as a Cameron Heyward replacement.

AtoZ Sports’ Rob Gregson proposed that possibility on February 15.

“With some salary cap gymnastics and a new deal for Heyward that stretches his 2024 salary out or converts it to a signing bonus, the team would be able to manipulate the cap and bring Madubuike in as the next great interior defensive lineman in Pittsburgh,” wrote Gregson.

Madubuike posted career-highs of 13 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and 33 quarterback hits in 2023. He also had 1 forced fumble and 56 combined tackles on his way to second-team All-Pro. Madubuike made his first Pro Bowl in 2023 as well.

He had twice as many quarterback hits and more sacks in 2023 than he had in his first three NFL seasons combined.

How do the Steelers Eventually Replace Cameron Heyward?

Pittsburgh could release Heyward and save $16 million against the salary cap. That could be enough space to fit Madubuike on the team’s 2024 roster.

However, in Gregson’s proposed scenario, the Steelers wouldn’t replace Heyward with Madubuike immediately.

Over the past 13 years, Heyward has become one of the best Steelers in history never to play in a Super Bowl. That makes it highly unlikely the Steelers depart with the veteran this offseason.

Furthermore, Heyward just won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Gregson insinuated that releasing the veteran defensive lineman after winning that honor would be a public relations nightmare.

But if the Steelers could lower Heyward’s cap hit and release other players to squeeze a potential Madubuike contract on the books, the Steelers would then have a viable future replacement for Heyward.

Over four NFL seasons, Madubuike has posted 21.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and 49 quarterback hits. He’s also recorded 5 pass defenses and 1 forced fumble in 59 NFL games.

Will the Baltimore Ravens Place the Franchise Tag on Justin Madubuike?

There are many obstacles in Gregson’s proposal. Even if the Steelers performed some “some salary cap gymnastics” to sign Madubuike, they would then have very little room to add free agents at inside linebacker, cornerback or along the offensive line.

Not to mention, the Steelers only have Kenny Pickett at quarterback currently on the roster.

The team could address all of those needs in the draft. However, a veteran presence at some of those positions, especially quarterback, is probably necessary too. That will cost money in free agency.

Of course, the Steelers won’t even have the opportunity to perform “salary cap gymnastics” to sign Madubuike if the Ravens elect to re-sign him.

USA Today’s For the Win’s Robert Zeglinski named Madubuike one of 11 players that should be on “franchise tag watch” before 2024 free agency begins.

“It remains to be seen whether they can even re-sign a 26-year-old defensive tackle breaking out at the perfect time,” Zeglinski wrote. “A franchise tag on Madubuike feels all but inevitable for a juggernaut team that needs him to finally break through with a Super Bowl championship during the Lamar Jackson era.”

Steelers Depot’s Matthew Marczi argued on February 5, though, that the Ravens “are not afraid of growing their roster internally and reaping the benefits of compensatory draft picks.”

The franchise tag for a defensive lineman will be about $20 million. Even with Baltimore entering a Super Bowl or bust campaign in 2024, the Ravens could view Madubuike as expendable.

But if the Ravens allow Madubuike to leave in free agency, that doesn’t mean the Steelers will find easy to sign him. The 26-year-old could receive offers from several teams after his breakout 2023 campaign.

Still, it’s fun to think about the possibility of Madubuike landing in black and gold.

Related Posts

Packers Meeting With First-Round Pass Rusher

The Green Bay Packers have some options with the 25th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and they’re even doing their homework on potential pass rushers like Marshawn Kneeland…

Packers’ $18 Million All-Pro Named One of ‘Worst’ Signings of Free Agency

The Green Bay Packers made some splashier signings this offseason than fans are accustomed to seeing, though one is catching some early criticism. Ryan Fowler of Bleacher Report on Monday,…

Packers Predicted to Land ‘No. 1 Cornerback’ with ‘Twitch and Explosiveness’

The Green Packers have built a young and exciting offense around emerging quarterback Jordan Love and now might aim to replicate that playbook on defense. General manager Brian Gutekunst and the Packers took a…

Packers Predicted to Land Home-Run Threat at Running Back

The Green Bay Packers may not be done shuffling their backfield, and former Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright could be an ideal fit for what they need in the…

Malachi Corley named the best Day 2 fit for Eagles in 2024 NFL Draft

NFL teаmѕ covet аthleteѕ who cаn turn potentіаl ѕmаll ɡаіnѕ іnto exploѕіve, ɡаme-chаnɡіnɡ yаrdѕ аfter the cаtch. The 2024 NFL drаft іѕ here, leѕѕ thаn two weekѕ…

Vikings ‘Most Underpaid Player’ Poised to Sign Monster Extension

The Mіnneѕotа Vіkіnɡѕ ɡot off theіr moѕt expenѕіve contrаct when Kіrk Couѕіnѕ left for the Atlаntа Fаlconѕ, leаvіnɡ hіѕ top tаrɡet Juѕtіn Jefferѕon аѕ the prіme cаndіdаte…