The Pittsburgh Steelers just missed out on the playoffs last season, and have spent much of the ensuing offseason building up their team in an attempt to find their way back to the postseason in 2023. While it hasn't necessarily been the flashiest offseason of work, it's tough to argue that Pittsburgh isn't in a better spot than they were when the 2022 season concluded.

For the Steelers, much of their upcoming season will depend on the development of Kenny Pickett. After initially starting the season on the sidelines, Pickett eventually took over as the team's starting quarterback, and will be their unquestioned starter in his second season in the league. It wasn't always pretty, but Pickett typically found ways to lead Pittsburgh to wins down the stretch of the season.

In free agency, the Steelers opted to round out the edges of their roster rather than make a massive splash, and it netted them some solid players. However, not all free agency moves are created equal, with some being riskier than others, so with that in mind, let's pick out the riskiest free agency move the Steelers made this offseason and see why it could end up backfiring on them.

Steelers riskiest free agency move: Re-signing Larry Ogunjobi

Larry Ogunjobi continued his tour de force around the AFC North when he signed a one-year deal with the Steelers after a strong one-season stint with the Cincinnati Bengals, and immediately helped shore up Pittsburgh's interior defensive line. Ogunjobi didn't produce eye-popping numbers (48 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 11 QB Hits) but he played a big role in the Steelers solid defense.

Re-signing Ogunjobi was a move that made sense for the Steelers, so it was no surprise to see them bring him back in free agency. However, handing him a three-year, $28.75 million deal that pays him nearly $10 million annually felt like a rather steep price for a guy who is oftentimes a one-dimensional defensive tackle.

Ogunjobi's 2021 campaign with the Bengals put him on everyone's radar, as he racked up seven sacks to help Cincy unexpectedly find their way to the Super Bowl. Ogunjobi's numbers in that department dropped rather drastically, which is already an immediate concern. Ogunjobi isn't exactly a pass-rush first guy, but the problem with this deal is that it is almost paying him to be that type of player.

The Steelers were likely hoping to get a bit more from Ogunjobi in the sack department when they signed him to a one-year deal last offseason, and by handing him this fairly big deal, it seems like they are expecting him to be able to return to that form in 2023. Maybe he can do that, but it certainly feels like a pretty notable risk.

Ogunjobi is a solid run-defender, but again, he's still a guy who is only playing about two-thirds of Pittsburgh's defensive snaps. Typically when you get around $10 million as a defensive tackle, you are expected to be close to a three-down player, but Ogunjobi gets subbed off in obvious passing situations from time-to-time, depending on the formation the defense is in.

Could Ogunjobi's production increase if his usage was increased? Probably, but it also raises the question of whether that, you know, actually benefits the Steelers defense. If Ogunjobi is on the field in third-and-long situations, that's a gift for the opposing offense because he isn't an interior lineman that can eat up two blockers. Diverting attention to a guy like T.J. Watt becomes far easier to accomplish in these situations.

There's also legitimate concern about how Ogunjobi will hold up over the course of a long-term deal. Three years isn't necessarily “long” when discussing NFL contracts, but it is worth remembering that Ogunjobi had a deal with the Chicago Bears rescinded last offseason thanks to a failed physical. Pittsburgh overlooked that and signed him anyway, but the concern still exists.

Chances are Ogunjobi will continue to fill his current role with the Steelers throughout this deal, but handing him the sort of money that they did feels a bit reckless. Ogunjobi is a good player, but there's a very good chance Pittsburgh was bidding against themselves here, as his production just doesn't match up with the price tag based on what we have seen so far.

Maybe Ogunjobi reverts back to his 2021 Bengals form, when this sort of deal would have made a lot more sense, but banking on that was always going to be a risk. The Steelers almost certainly could have re-signed Ogunjobi for less money, and in turn, gone on to address other areas of their roster. Instead, they handed him a fairly pricey deal that could end up coming back to bite him if he doesn't produce or struggles with his health along the way.