The Steelers entered Thursday with four former first-round picks on their defense, and it looks like that number is about to increase. That number has now increased to five after the Steelers signed former Pro Bowl safety Keanu Neal to a two-year deal, his agent confirmed late Thursday afternoon.
The 17th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Neal forced five fumbles as a rookie while helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl that season. He was named to his first Pro Bowl the following season after forcing three fumbles and making 116 tackles. Neal spent the first five seasons of his career in Atlanta before spending one year apiece in Dallas and Tampa. A part-time starter with the Buccaneers, Neal had one interception and 63 tackles during his only season with Tampa Bay.
Neal joins a Steelers secondary that will look significantly different in 2023 than it did in 2022. Pittsburgh parted with Cam Sutton this offseason and replaced him with eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson, however, may be moved from cornerback to free safety while allowing Minkah Fitzpatrick to move to strong safety, the position that was formerly manned by former first-round pick Terrell Edmunds. Edmunds signed with the Eagles this month after turning down Pittsburgh's offer.
It's been a busy month for the Steelers, who for a second straight offseason have used free agency to bolster an ever-improving offensive line. One of this year's free agent signings, former Eagle Isaac Seumalo, is expected to compete for Pittsburgh's starting left guard position against Kevin Dotson.
The Steelers also aggressively addressed inside linebacker by signing veterans Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. Pittsburgh made a splash by signing Peterson, as the Steelers' defense now has four former first-round picks in its starting lineup. Among the team's better in-house free agency signings was defensive end Larry Ogunjobi, who played well under a one-year deal last season.
Nose tackle and receiver are still areas the Steelers need to address this offseason. Bud Dupree, who visited the Steelers on Thursday, will fill Pittsburgh's current void at backup pass rusher if the former first-round pick re-signs with the Steelers.