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Free Agency: How Neal fits with Steelers

Keanu Neal, DB, 8th season, 6-0, 212 lbs.

The Steelers added more depth on defense with the signing of defensive back Keanu Neal to a two-year contract.

Neal, 27, was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.

A box-safety type, Neal was a Pro Bowl player for the Falcons in 2017 when he recorded 116 tackles with one interception and six pass breakups. He also forced three fumbles.

A big hitter, Neal had his 2018 and 2019 seasons wrecked by injuries, tearing an ACL and then an Achilles' tendon in back-to-back seasons.

But he returned in 2020 and again recorded 100 tackles with one interception and a sack, showing he was healthy.

Neal signed with the Cowboys in 2021 and Dallas moved him to a linebacker position, with Neal appearing in 14 games, with five of them starts.

Steelers signed S Keanu Neal on a two-year contract

Last season, he moved on to Tampa Bay and also went back to a more familiar strong safety spot, appearing in 17 games with eight of them starts. Neal had 63 tackles and an interception for the Buccaneers.

His signing provides the Steelers with some veteran depth at the safety position and could help ease the loss of Terrell Edmunds, with whom he has a similar skillset.

He could be used as a nickel or dime linebacker, as well. Neal is an above-average blitzer from the safety position. He had a sack and four quarterback hits last season on just seven blitzes according to Pro Football Focus.

He played 233 snaps in the box last season and 172 snaps at deep safety in Tampa Bay's Cover-2 alignments.

Neal also played 98 snaps in the slot, 30 of which came in Tampa Bay's game against the Ravens.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said at the NFL Annual Meeting that veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson could be used in some different spots on the back end of the defense, including safety, and Neal gives the Steelers another veteran chess piece who can align at different spots if needed.

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