Patrick Queen leaving Baltimore for rival Pittsburgh on 3-year deal, AP sources say

FILE - Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen works out prior to an NFL football AFC divisional playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore. Pittsburgh is luring inside linebacker Queen away from rival Baltimore. The Steelers and the second-team All-Pro have agreed to a three-year deal worth $41 million, a person with knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

FILE – Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen works out prior to an NFL football AFC divisional playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore. Pittsburgh is luring inside linebacker Queen away from rival Baltimore. The Steelers and the second-team All-Pro have agreed to a three-year deal worth $41 million, a person with knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have found a running mate for outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

Pittsburgh is luring inside linebacker Patrick Queen away from rival Baltimore. The Steelers and the second-team All-Pro have agreed to a three-year deal worth $41 million, two people with knowledge of the deal tell The Associated Press. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity the move can’t become official until the new league year begins Wednesday.

Queen, 24, is coming off a career-best season with Baltimore in 2023 when he had 133 tackles to go with 3 1/2 sacks and an interception. His arrival addresses a position the Steelers have struggled to fill since Ryan Shazier suffered a career-ending back injury in December 2017.

Pittsburgh’s inside linebacking group was decimated by injuries last fall, with Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander having their seasons cut short. Holcomb is recovering from knee surgery in early November while Alexander, who will become a free agent on Wednesday, tore an Achilles tendon in a win over Green Bay on Nov. 12.

The Steelers will slot Queen next to Elandon Roberts, who led the Steelers with 101 tackles last season. It also takes the pressure off Holcomb to return by the season opener.

The move is the second splashy addition Pittsburgh has made since the tampering period began. Nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson has agreed to a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, thanks in part to the Denver Broncos picking up the lion’s share of the tab.

Grabbing Wilson on the cheap gave general manager Omar Khan the flexibility to land Queen, who is entering his prime and is the kind of three-down linebacker the Steelers have been searching for since Shazier injured his back in Cincinnati on Dec. 4, 2017.

The position has been a revolving door of sorts in recent years and Pittsburgh’s aggressive move to trade up into the top 10 in the 2019 draft to select Devin Bush failed spectacularly when Bush tore his ACL early in his second season and struggled to regain his form.

The list of veterans the Steelers have brought in to fill the void over the years includes Jon Bostic, Mark Barron, Avery Williamson, Joe Schobert and Myles Jack. None of them stuck, though Jack did return to the team in the middle of last season after being cut the previous spring in a salary cap move.

No player in that group, however, was as young or as accomplished as Queen when they signed. His arrival gives the Steelers the kind of versatile inside linebacking presence they’ll need in a division that includes Queen’s now-former teammate Lamar Jackson and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow.

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AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.

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