The Pittsburgh Steelers saved $5 million Wednesday by releasing right tackle Zach Banner, and then they used that savings to sign one of the top inside linebackers on the free agent market.
Myles Jack, a six-year veteran released by Jacksonville a day earlier, agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract, according to sources.
The move likely will lead to the release of inside linebacker Joe Schobert after one season with the Steelers.
Jack, who is still just 26 years old, was Jacksonville’s leading tackler last season and had at least 107 stops in three of his past four years with the Jaguars. He is perhaps best known to Steelers fans for his interception in the divisional round of the 2017 playoffs that helped propel Jacksonville to a 45-42 upset at Heinz Field.
Jack’s interception set up an 18-yard touchdown run on the next play that gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Jack has started 82 of the 88 games he has played in his six NFL seasons. He will step into the middle of the Steelers defense alongside former first-round draft pick Devin Bush and replace Schobert, his former teammate with the Jaguars.
Schobert started 15 games for the Steelers after being acquired from Jacksonville during training camp, but his contract carries a $9.722 million cap hit.
If the Steelers release Schobert with a post-June 1 designation, it will create a $9.25 million savings. Releasing Schobert without that designation brings a savings of $7.834 million.
Jack was in the middle of a four-year, $57 million contract extension he signed in September 2019, making him the NFL’s third-highest-paid linebacker, when Jacksonville released him Tuesday. The transaction saved Jacksonville $8.35 million.
When the signing becomes official, Jack will be the fifth outside free agent to agree to terms with the Steelers since the legal tampering period opened Monday, making it one of their busiest offseasons since free agency was introduced. The other free agents are quarterback Mitch Trubisky, guard James Daniels, center/guard Mason Cole and cornerback Levi Wallace.
The Steelers created extra room by releasing Banner, who was scheduled to count $6.625 million against the salary cap. His release created a $5 million savings.
In four seasons with the Steelers, Banner appeared in 22 games but made just two starts, and the organization couldn’t justify carrying his contract. Banner, 28, was the starting right guard heading into the 2020 season, but he tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of the season opener. The injury lingered into 2021, limiting him to one start.
The Steelers already announced the re-signing of three of their free agents: right tackle Chuks Okorafor, safety Miles Killebrew and cornerback Arthur Maulet. Nose tackle Montravius Adams also agreed to terms on a two-year deal, but the Steelers have yet to announce that deal.
Also Wednesday, quarterback Dwayne Haskins signed his $2.54 million restricted free agent tender.
Haskins, the former first-round pick of Washington in 2019, is coming off his first season with the Steelers after signing a contract with them in January 2021. Haskins didn’t see any action as the No. 3 quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolf.
Despite Roethlisberger’s retirement, Haskins could still be third on the depth chart after the Steelers agreed to terms on a two-year contract with Trubisky.
Haskins was taken with the No. 15 overall pick in 2019 and went 3-10 as a starter in two seasons in Washington. He completed 60.1% of his passes for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
The Steelers also tendered right-of-first refusal tenders worth $2.43 million apiece to inside linebackers Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .