The Pittsburgh Steelers entered this league year with 12 players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, and another three players who would be restricted free agents. They ended up retaining five of those unrestricted free agents in addition to tendering all three of their restricted free agents.
Pittsburgh also added help from outside of the organization at running back, but suffered two free agency losses, one to another team and the other to retirement. The Steelers also released two players, while five of their unrestricted free agents remain unsigned.
The organization has been clear throughout recent weeks that the organization has essentially wrapped up all meaningful free agent activities. Perhaps there may be a modest addition or re-signing or two in the secondary between now and the draft, but now is a good time to take a look back and see where each position started at the beginning of the process and where it is now leading up to the draft.
Total Positional Figure: 4
Offseason additions: 1
Offseason losses: 0
Ben Roethlisberger: Ben Roethlisberger is coming off his most successful season in terms of individual statistical performance. He led the league by throwing for nearly 5000 yards, tied his career-high with 32 touchdowns passes, posted a career best in completion percentage, and lowered his interception ratio to an all-time low.
Roethlisberger is one of the few legitimate franchise quarterbacks in the league, which is why he was recently compensated as such. Never has the team relied upon him more than now, and he stepped up last season, even if they failed to make it to the second round of the playoffs. An 11-5 record with a division title, especially with the way the season ended, however, indicates that the arrow is pointing up, and he deserves a significant portion of the credit for that.
Bruce Gradkowski: Bruce Gradkowski is entering the final year of a three-year contract, during which he has played exactly zero regular season snaps due to injury. He did play seven snaps to wrap up a blowout victory, and was finally called to action for a three-snap stretch in the postseason, but he has largely been on the sidelines, which is what you want from your backup.
Landry Jones: One has to think that year three is a pivotal season for Landry Jones, the Steelers’ second of two fourth-round draft picks in 2012. He has shown little improvement since being drafted and certainly doesn’t appear to be giving Gradkowski a run for his money.
Tajh Boyd: Tajh Boyd was a late-round draftee last year who failed to make a roster before playing in the FXFL. The Steelers saw something that they liked in him, however, and have signed him to a futures contract. The odds don’t favor him being any more than a camp arm when all is said and done.
Notes: Roethlisberger and the Steelers worked out a four-year extension for the franchise quarterback that ties him to the organization through the 2019 season and pays him $21.85 million per season in terms of new money. The team claims that they want competition among the backups this year, but it will be interesting to see if there’s a third quarterback that deserves a roster spot.