Trai Turner, Steelers Agree to 1-Year Contract After David DeCastro Release


Jeff Bottari/Associated Press

Veteran offensive lineman Trai Turner agreed to a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

Turner’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter about the agreement.

The move was expected in the wake of Pittsburgh announcing earlier in the day that it released David DeCastro.

The Los Angeles Chargers released the 27-year-old prior to the start of the NFL’s official 2021 league year, a move that saved them $11.5 million. They then used those savings to help land 2020 All-Pro center Corey Linsley on a five-year, $62.5 million deal.

Los Angeles acquired Turner via trade last offseason, sending Russell Okung to the Carolina Panthers. The Chargers seemed to come out much better from the deal. Turner had made the last five Pro Bowls and established himself as a premier interior lineman.

Unfortunately for the LSU product, knee and groin problems limited him to seven games, his fewest since entering the league in 2014. His performance when he was healthy did little to bolster his value.

Pro Football Focus ranked the Chargers’ offensive line as the NFL’s worst:

“Turner and [Bryan] Bulaga both battled through injury-shortened seasons and weren’t effective when they were on the field, either. Bulaga’s 61.6 overall grade ranked 29th at the right tackle position, and Turner came in as the lowest-graded right guard in the entire league by a wide margin (34.8). Those were the veterans who were supposed to raise the floor of what was otherwise a bad unit coming into the year, which made the lack of production from those two players hurt all the more.”

Turner had a hand in those struggles, failing to provide the kind of return the front office expected when it added him.

Michael Peterson @ZoneTracks

*If you have a weak stomach, I advise you to look away*

#Chargers overall OL grades from PFF in 2020:

Sam Tevi – 52.9
Forrest Lamp – 49.4
Dan Feeney – 48.2
Trai Turner – 34.8
Bryan Bulaga – 61.6

Tough to see how the 13th-overall pick isn’t going to be used on OL.

Seth Walder @SethWalder

Trai Turner ranked last among 70 qualifying guards in pass block win rate in 2020.

Ranked 3rd in the same category in 2018.

(ESPN / Next Gen Stats)

Between his injuries and the general hardships posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps it’s unfair to judge him based solely on his 2020 output. A rebound could be in store, and if nothing else, he can’t be any worse in 2021.

The 2014 third-round pick carries an obvious level of risk, but that could work to Pittsburgh’s benefit. He’ll presumably carry a big chip on his shoulder heading into the upcoming season in order to land a bigger contract down the road.

Alejandro Villanueva is a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Feiler is plying his trade with the Chargers, and Maurkice Pouncey retired altogether. Combined with DeCastro’s release, those are four starters along the offensive line who are gone for the Steelers.

The team drafted a pair of linemen (Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr.) but still had some work to do to shore up the point of attack. Turner provides that necessary depth if they hope to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns in the AFC North this season. 

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