The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have an open spot on their 90-man offseason roster and if I had any say in it, they would fill it with an experienced outside linebacker before training camp begins. On Monday, the Chicago Bears cut ties with such an experienced outside linebacker and I wouldn’t be shocked or disappointed if the Steelers pursued him cheaply. The player I’m 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 2021 after playing 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 peak rusher, now 29, had also spent offseason time with the San Francisco 49ers (2018) and Kansas City Chiefs (2019).
Last season, Attaochu was on the Bears Reserve/Injured list in mid-October after suffering a pec tear. Prior to the injury, he played 129 total defensive snaps before being credited with just two total tackles. By all accounts, Attaochu is now fully recovered from that injury and has been participating in Bears OTA workouts this summer.
So why are the Bears just now parting ways with Attaochu, who was expected to earn the full $2.45 million in 2022? My best guess is that it mostly has to do with him no longer fitting into the scheme as the Bears move to a 4-3 defense under new head coach Matt Eberflus. Attaochu has primarily been a 3-4 outside linebacker throughout his NFL career as well as in college. He did, however, play some in a 4-3 defense in his senior year of college.
The Steelers left their mandatory minicamp with an outside linebacker depth chart that’s obviously headlined by TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith. Behind those two players, however, are newcomers Genard Avery and Tuzar Skipper, 2021 carryovers Derrek Tuszka and Delontae Scott, and undrafted rookie free agents Tyree Johnson and TD Moultry. That’s not an overly impressive group of saves, in my honest opinion.
Clearly, Attaochu’s best years are now behind him and he’s had issues staying healthy over the years. Even so, he should be cheap right now for a team looking for an experienced outside linebacker late in the offseason. Will the Steelers consider signing him? We will see.