The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have an open spot on their offseason 90-man roster and if I had a say in the matter, they would fill it with an experienced outside linebacker before training camp gets underway. On Monday, the Chicago Bears cut ties with one such experienced outside linebacker and I would not be shocked, or disappointed, if the Steelers pursued him on the cheap. The player I am talking about is none other than Jeremiah Attaochu.
Attaochu, who was originally selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech by the San Diego Chargers, has become quite the journeyman over the years. He signed a two-year contract with the Bears in March of 2021 after previously playing in 74 games with 23 starts in seven NFL seasons with the Chargers (2014-17), New York Jets (2018) and Denver Broncos (2019-20), compiling 144 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 31 tackles-for-loss, 42 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles. The now 29-year-old edge rusher had also spent time during offseasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2018) and Kansas City Chiefs (2019).
Last season, Attaochu would up on the Bears Reserve/Injured list in the middle of October after suffering a torn pec. Before suffering that injury, he played 129 total defensive snaps on his way to being credited with just two total tackles. By all accounts, Attaochu is now fully recovered from that injury, and he took part in the Bears OTA practices this summer.
So, why are the Bears just now parting ways with Attaochu, who was scheduled to earn all of $2.45 million in 2022? My best guess is it’s mostly related to him no longer being a scheme fit as the Bears are switching to a 4-3 defense under new head coach Matt Eberflus. Attaochu has mainly been a 3-4 outside linebacker throughout his NFL career as well as in college. He did play some in a 4-3 defense his senior year of college, however.
The Steelers exited their mandatory minicamp with an outside linebacker depth chart that is obviously headlined by T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Behind those two players, however, are newcomers Genard Avery and Tuzar Skipper, 2021 carryovers Derrek Tuszka and Delontae Scott, and rookie undrafted free agents, Tyree Johnson and T.D. Moultry. That’s not an overly impressive group of backups, in my honest opinion.
Obviously, Attaochu’s best years are now behind him, and he has had issues staying healthy over the years. Even so, he should come cheap right now for a team looking for an experienced outside linebacker this late in the offseason. Will the Steelers look into signing him? We’ll see.