New Steelers LB Patrick Queen Puts Ravens on Notice

The quarterback drama has dominated the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the biggest free agent contract in franchise history belongs to the team’s newest starting inside linebacker — Patrick Queen.

Patrick Queen

Ironically, Queen has been a public enemy in Pittsburgh since he was a first-round pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2020. But in his Steelers introductory press conference, Queen emphasized how he’s ready to be the bad guy on the other side of the rivalry.

“It’s going to be weird,” Queen said about playing the Ravens twice next season. “But I want to be that villain, that guy, so I’m looking to do some stuff to them.”

Queen did plenty of “stuff” to the Steelers and the rest of the league, particularly last season, when he made his first Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro.

The linebacker, who will turn 25 in August, posted 133 combined tackles, including 9 tackles for loss in 2023. He also had 3.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, 6 pass defenses and 1 interception.

In two contests against the Steelers, Queen had 16 combined tackles, 1 quarterback hit, 1 pass defense and 0.5 sacks.

Patrick Queen Fully Embracing Switching Sides in Steelers-Ravens Rivalry

As should be expected, Queen admitted that he never thought about becoming a Steelers linebacker after the Ravens drafted him at No. 28 overall in the 2020 NFL draft.

But now that he’s on the other side, he told reporters he’s not going to think about his time with the Ravens.

“You never think about switching to the biggest rival in your division,” Queen said. “I think just now being here is going to be the same way now. So, I’m just ready to get to work, get to learn the guys, and this organization, this team, the city, and just do everything I can to help win.”

In 2020, Queen finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. But over the next two seasons, Queen didn’t develop as the Ravens likely hoped. At the NFL trade deadline during the 2022 season, Baltimore acquired inside linebacker Roquan Smith and then signed him to a 5-year, $100 million deal during last offseason.

The writing was at least on the wall then that Queen may not get a second contract in Baltimore. The Ravens also declined his fifth-year option.

According to the Pro Football Focus player grades, though, Queen has improved every season. In 2023, he posted a career-best 73 grade overall and 74.4 coverage grade.

The Steelers have been lacking an elite coverage inside linebacker since Ryan Shazier’s spinal injury in 2017.

Why Queen Elected to Join the Steelers

It’s pretty easy to see why the Steelers were interested in signing Queen. The feeling, though, was apparently pretty mutual.

“I think just the organization itself is known for winning, great defense, and a bunch of stars over here,” Queen said. “Just wanted to come be a part of that and be that extra piece to try to win again.”

The Steelers made several free agent additions to their defense last offseason in an effort to try and win again. But it took some time for all of those free agents to gel together.

Queen seemed aware of that potential problem. He stressed working together with his new Steelers teammates as the key to Pittsburgh having an elite defense once again.

“It’s basically us going out there playing fast, physical, confident, everybody on the same page,” Queen added. “When you got a defense on that kind of page there, that tends to let the bullets fly the whole game for 60 minutes that is lethal to the offense.

“That’s what I can’t wait to be a part of.”

The Steelers were ranked sixth in points allowed but 21st in total defense last season. The last time Pittsburgh was ranked in the top 5 in points or yards allowed was 2020.

In Baltimore, Queen was part of three defenses that finished ranked in the top 5 in points allowed and top 10 in yards allowed. The Ravens yielded the fewest points and sixth-fewest yards in the NFL last season.

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