The winds of change have swept through Pittsburgh. 

Not a historically big player in free agency, the Steelers have made an about-face in Omar Khan's second full offseason as Pittsburgh's general manager. Taking their cue from team president Art Rooney II, Khan, assistant GM Andy Weidl and the rest of Pittsburgh's front office is working with urgency in an effort to end its eight-year drought without a playoff win. 

The Steelers made arguably the four biggest moves during the first week of free agency. They traded a former Pro Bowl receiver and their former starting quarterback. They signed both of the quarterbacks who they were reportedly interested in. If that wasn't enough, Pittsburgh also signed a Pro Bowl linebacker who formerly starred for its archrival. 

It hasn't all been good news in Pittsburgh, though. The Steelers are still trying to sign a veteran receiver who can complement George Pickens. Tyler Boyd is still an option, but money is reportedly holding things up

With free agency still ongoing, here's a summary of the Steelers' free agency so far along with our grades for each move. 

Key free agent additions

Key player acquisitions via trade 

Key re-signings 

Key losses


  • Russell Wilson: 1 year, $1.21 million 
Russell Wilson
PIT • QB • #3
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This was a move the Steelers simply had to make. While things didn't go as planned in Denver, Wilson nevertheless threw 26 touchdowns and just eight picks in 2023. He's still driven to win and comes to Pittsburgh at minimal cost. 

It's hard to criticize the Steelers for making this move, but it should be noted that they are replacing Pickett with a 35-year-old who is the fifth-most sacked quarterback in league history. Wilson needs to play well to validate the Steelers' decision. 

Grade: B+ 

  • Justin Fields: Traded to Pittsburgh from Chicago in exchange for 2025 sixth-round pick (could become fourth-round selection based on playing time).
Justin Fields
PIT • QB • #1
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Fields became an option for Pittsburgh after the Steelers traded Pickett to Philadelphia. Like Wilson, Fields comes to Pittsburgh on a cheap salary (he's on the fourth year of his rookie contract). He is an ideal backup in that he has 34 career starts under his belt. Fields is also young (25) and could possibly be the Steelers QB of the future if things go according to plan. 

From a system standpoint, Fields and Wilson are ideal quarterbacks for Arthur Smith's offense. Fields and Wilson are statistically much better passers off play-action, which is an integral part of what Smith likes to do. 

Grade: A-

  • Patrick Queen: 3 years, $41 million 

The Steelers' long quest to find a standout middle linebacker appears to be over with the arrival of Queen, who filled the stat sheet during his final year with the Ravens. In Pittsburgh, Queen said that he is motivated to prove that he can be "the guy" after playing alongside Roquan Smith in Baltimore. 

Grade: A

  • Kenny Pickett: Traded to Eagles along with a 2024 fourth-round pick in exchange for 2024 third-round pick and two 2025 seventh-round picks. 
Kenny Pickett
PHI • QB • #8
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From a trade standpoint, the Steelers got a decent return for a Pickett, especially when you consider what the Bears got in the Fields trade. From a player standpoint, Pickett's departure essentially wiped out what the Steelers had been trying to build for the past two years. A reset was probably best for both sides. 

Grade: C+ 

  • Diontae Johnson: Traded to Panthers along with a 2024 seventh-round pick in exchange for Jackson and a 2024 sixth-round pick. 
Diontae Johnson
CAR • WR • #18
REC YDs717
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Overall, this was a good trade for Pittsburgh. They dealt a player who wasn't in their long-term plans while also shedding his $18.35 million salary. The Steelers improved their draft capital with this trade and also acquired a fast, talented cornerback in Jackson who is still in his prime. 

The only negative here is that the Steelers have yet to find Johnson's replacement. But that's a pretty decent negative, given the importance of receivers in today's NFL

Grade: B+ 

  • DeShon Elliott: 2 years, $6 million 

Elliott is a younger and more affordable alternative than fellow safety Justin Simmons, who is still unsigned. The main difference between the two is turnovers. Simmons has 30 career picks compared to Elliott's three. 

At 26, Elliott's best years should still be ahead of him. Elliott, who will replace Neal in the secondary, is extremely good against the run, which is surely one of the reasons why the Steelers signed him. 

Elliott has played more free than strong safety so far, so it'll be interesting to see how he embraces playing strong safety alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick


  • Van Jefferson: 1 year 
Van Jefferson
PIT • WR • #15
REC YDs209
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This was a low-risk signing that has the potential to pay big dividends. While injuries hindered his growth in Los Angeles, Jefferson still showed his potential by catching six touchdown passes during the Rams' 2021 Super Bowl season. He should fit in nicely as a fourth option in Pittsburgh's offense. 

Grade: B-

  • Miles Killebrew: 2 years, $6.5 million 

Killebrew is a special teams standout who is coming off an All-Pro season. His signing is big for the special teams and also adds depth to Pittsburgh's secondary. While his deal is a little pricey, the Steelers obviously think Killebrew is worth it. 

Grade: B+

  • Cameron Johnston: 3 years, $9 million 

Johnston is an upgrade over Harvin, who struggled with his consistency during his three seasons in Pittsburgh. Johnston had the NFL's fourth-highest net punt average last season, and his 30 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard-line were tied for seventh in the league, via the Steelers' website

Johnston's deal makes him one of the NFL's highest-paid punters, so the expectation is that he'll continue to play like one. 

Grade: A- 

  • Christian Kuntz: 3 years 

While it didn't get much fanfare, this was an important signing for the Steelers. A local guy who played collegiately at Duquesne, Kuntz has done a solid job since joining the Steelers in 2021. By extending his deal, the Steelers don't have to worry about the long snapper position any time soon. 

Grade: B

  • Breiden Fehoko: 1 year 

The Steelers re-signed Fehoko after he spent the 2023 season rotating between the practice squad and the active roster. He'll probably serve as solid competition for whomever the Steelers select at defensive tackle in next month's NFL Draft

Grade: C+