Bucs safety Keanu Neal has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, leaving the team in free agency. Neal’s agent, David Canter, broke the news on Twitter. Neal signed a two-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Congratulations to @gsefootball client @Keanu_Neal on agreeing to terms on a new 2 year contract to join @steelers pic.twitter.com/35BDtALrRt
— David Canter (@davidcanter) March 30, 2023
For Neal, joining the Steelers marks his fourth team in four seasons after a one-season cameo in Tampa Bay.
Last season, Neal outplayed his veteran minimum salary of $1,047,500. He played in all 17 games, making eight starts. He was a versatile, big-hitting weapon for Todd Bowles to utilize across the field at safety and even when scheming up blitzes and putting him in the box.
Bucs S Keanu Neal – Photo by: USA Today
Neal recorded 63 total tackles, one interception, and even five quarterback hits. The Florida native and former Gator played well down the stretch, filling in for Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards, and Logan Ryan.
Perhaps his biggest game was in Week 13 against the division-rival New Orleans Saints. Late in the fourth quarter of that contest, Andy Dalton threw a pass to tight end Taysom Hill behind linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Jamel Dean for what looked like a 25-yard completion and a crucial first down.
This is when Neal made his mark, delivering a big hit that forced an incompletion and fourth down in what ended up being a big Bucs win.
Keanu Neal’s Weaknesses Held Him Back From Making Bigger Impact
Still, Neal has his warts as a player, with his biggest weakness being in coverage. This was a big reason the Dallas Cowboys experimented with him as a linebacker in the box in 2021. Per PFF’s premium stats, he was targeted 27 times and gave up 22 receptions, an 81.5% rate. This led to three touchdowns and a 131.9 rating for opposing quarterbacks.
He also had issues at times with making tackles. He was featured in a Bucs Film Room session in late October, illustrating instances where he missed bringing down the ball-carrier.
Neal joins his next team with the ability to make big plays, but at this point, his strengths and weaknesses as a player are well-defined.
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