UPDATE (6:24 PM): The Pittsburgh Steelers have officially signed safety Keanu Neal to a two-year deal, news confirmed by Neal’s agent David Canter.
Our original story is below.
We don’t know if the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing Bud Dupree today. But it sounds like they’re close to inking at least one deal. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, the team is closing in on a deal with safety/linebacker Keanu Neal.
Neal, turning 28 in July, brings the pedigree the Steelers love: a first-round selection in 2016 by the Atlanta Falcons. A hard-hitter, he’s dealt with injuries and seemed to be in the process of making a switch to linebacker. But he could also play safety as a box hitter, similar to the role Terrell Edmunds occupied. Neal could also fill Edmunds’ 2022 role as a dimebacker who played within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Despite the Steelers offering a contract, Edmunds took a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Dulac went on to tweet that Neal is viewed as depth, not a starting piece.
Neal spent 2022 in Tampa Bay, appearing in all 17 games and making 63 tackles. For his career, he has 61 starts with 473 tackles and eight forced fumbles, though all came during his first two seasons in the NFL.
He spent his first five years with the Falcons before signing with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. Last year, he inked a deal with the Buccaneers. As Dave Bryan notes, Neal has been a box player for the bulk of the last two years and was effectively a linebacker in 2021 for the Cowboys. In 2022, he played more of a hybrid role, seeing time in the box and at safety.
Neal’s potential signing wouldn’t prevent the team from drafting a safety in this year’s draft. The rest of the safety room with NFL snaps in a Steelers uniform includes Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tre Norwood, Miles Killebrew, and Elijah Riley.
Pittsburgh showed plenty of pre-draft interest in Neal coming out of Florida, including holding a visit with him. But he was long off the board by the time the Steelers picked 25th that year. The team settled on CB Artie Burns, arguably the biggest miss of the Kevin Colbert era. If you want a throwback, here’s our pre-draft scouting report on Neal.
During the NFL Owners Meetings, Mike Tomlin said the Steelers would add a safety at some point in the offseason. Neal seems poised to be that guy. And the team could still add another.