A busy Monday for the Steelers included the signing of a veteran offensive linemen, with the team planning to sign former Cardinals and Vikings offensive lineman Mason Cole to a three-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. On Tuesday, the second day of the NFL's legal tampering period, Pittsburgh signed another offensive lineman, former Bears center/guard James Daniels, to a three-year, $26.5 million deal, according to NFL Network.
The 97th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Cole has seen time at both guard positions as well as at center during his four-year NFL career. He has 39 career starts under his belt that include seven starts during his only season with the Vikings. Cole spent his first three seasons with the Cardinals, where he made 32 starts that included 16 starts at center during his rookie season.
Cole played collegiately at Michigan, where he was a four-year letterman and a three-time All-Big Ten honoree. Primarily a left tackle in college, Cole made 51 consecutive starts for the Wolverines that included 13 at center. In 2014, he became the first true freshman in program history to start a season opener.
The 24-year-old Daniels spent the first four years of his career with the Bears, where he made 49 starts in 55 games. Daniels started in each of Chicago's 17 games last year after being sidelined for 12 games with a torn pec muscle in 2020.
Daniels was the 39th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He made 23 starts at center during his final two seasons at Iowa before making the move to left guard upon his arrival in Chicago.
Pittsburgh has also re-signed veteran offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year, $29.5 million deal that includes $20.5 million guaranteed. Okorafor re-signed with the Steelers despite reportedly receiving interest from other clubs.
Along with Okorafor, the Steelers' starting offensive line included two rookies in left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green, who was switched from center to guard late in the season. The starting lineup also consisted of right guard Trai Turner, who was signed late in the 2021 offseason following David DeCastro's abrupt retirement. Turner is slated to enter free agency on March 16.
The Steelers' offensive line was the center of intense criticism for much of the 2021 season. While they never developed into a top-tier unit, the line showed signs of growth as the season progressed. They made enough holes to help Najee Harris finish fourth in the NFL with 1,200 rushing yards. The unit did enough to keep Ben Roethlisberger relatively healthy for his final season, which included a surprise playoff berth after a 1-3 start.
Pittsburgh's biggest splash of the tampering period was the news that they are signing former Bears Pro Bowl quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to a two-year deal. Trubisky, who spent the 2021 season as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo, will compete with Mason Rudolph to be the Steelers' starting quarterback for the 2022 campaign.