4 big-name free agents for Steelers to avoid like the plague

The Steelers need to make clever moves in free agency, but avoiding these four players will be crucial for Pittsburgh.

Jan 7, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up before a
Jan 7, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up before a / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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Mike Tomlin successfully piloted the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 10-7 record in 2023. That has fans in Pittsburgh believing their beloved team is just a good offseason away from AFC North contention. General manager Omar Khan and his staff need to hit a home run in free agency to elevate the Steelers to that kind of rarified air.

Signing the right players is a crucial part of that equation for the Steelers. Just as important is the need for the organization to avoid signing the wrong free agents. The team isn't blessed with a lot of cap space so handing any free agent a lucrative contract carries a lot of risk.

The Steelers can't afford to commit significant money to any of the following four free agents. Signing any one of them could undo a lot of the good work the front office has done in recent years.

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB

It's easy to understand how Tomlin might express interest in Ezekiel Elliott as a low-risk flyer to fortify his backfield. In his prime, Elliott was just the sort of tough, physical runner who would have fit the Steelers' offensive philosophy like a glove.

The simple truth is that Elliott is too far gone to salvage his career. He only averaged 3.5 yards per carry for the Patriots last season and there's no reason to think that total will improve as he continues to age further and further away from his athletic prime.

Elliott isn't going to get a large enough contract from anyone to ruin a team's offseason but he would be a waste of a roster spot for Pittsburgh. The Steelers should spend a late-round draft pick on a running back with more upside if they want to add to that position room. Signing Elliott would be a poor use of resources.