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Free Agency: How Armon Watts fits with Steelers

Armon Watts, DE, 5th year, 6-5, 307 lbs.

The Steelers added veteran defensive lineman Armon Watts in free agency, bringing in a 26-year-old player who has shown growth since entering the NFL in 2019 as a sixth-round draft pick.

A former Arkansas star, Watts appeared in seven games, starting one as a rookie for the Vikings in 2019. He recorded 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks in that limited action.

Watts appeared in all 16 games for the Vikings his second season, making 31 tackles and .5 sacks, adding two QB hits.

He blossomed in 2021, playing in all 17 games, nine of them starts, and posting career highs with 46 tackles, 5.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and 10 QB hits.

Watts was surprisingly waived by the Vikings at the end of training camp in 2022 and claimed by the Bears. He had 35 tackles with 1.0 sacks for the Bears last season, making 12 starts in his 17 games.

Steelers signed DT Armon Watts on a one-year contract

Despite having just one sack in 2022, Watts had 11 pressures. He played 539 defensive snaps, down from the career-high 669 he logged in 2021 with the Vikings.

Watts is considered a better pass rusher than he is against the run, but there are some tweaks that can be made in his technique that could help him get better there with his hand placement and leverage.

Watts figures into the mix at defensive end for the Steelers, where Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi figure to be the starters, with DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk and Renell Wren currently behind that group.

With his 22 career starts, he has the most experience on the roster behind Heyward and Ogunjobi and provides a veteran presence as the Steelers look for the right mix in that group between defensive ends and nose tackles.

He also helps the team continue to open up its draft board. If a better option doesn't present itself during the draft, the Steelers can certainly move forward with the defensive linemen currently on the roster.

• Dale Lolley is co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here: Apple Podcast | iHeart Podcast