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: 5
Offseason additions: 1 (1 Reserve/Future Signing)
Offseason losses: 0
Kelvin Beachum: Kelvin Beachum entered his first season as a full-time starter in 2014, and developed into one during the course of the year. At 6’3”, he will always have his natural limitations out on the edge, but those are largely neutralized by his hand work and foot work. His work ethic will drive him to continually better himself. His value as a five-position player will always be there as well.
Marcus Gilbert: Entering his fourth season, Marcus Gilbert played some of the best football of his career when he was healthy, but he missed four games due to injury, and that seemed to limit him some upon returning to the lineup. His run blocking improved, as did his work in pass protection, in large part due to improving his set, but he still has room to get better. He struggled early in the year with edge rushers, and in all three games against the Ravens.
Mike Adams: I think it’s safe to say that Mike Adams never lived up to his draft stock. The Steelers tried to fast track him into the starting lineup in year two only to have to bench him after four games and replace him with another lineman drafted in the same class as him in the seventh round. He has been the swing tackle since, but this could be his last year.
Alejandro Villanueva: Who knows what, if anything, Alejandro Villanueva will ever be able to offer. While his military background should prepare him for any difficulties faced in the NFL, that will never guarantee him the ability to play to an NFL-level caliber. This is his first offseason with the Steelers, and he has continue to put on weight and learn the offensive tackle position.
Mitchell Van Dyk (Reserve/Future): Likely exclusively a camp body. He has struggled on the edge and was prone to holding penalties as a result. Not the answer for depth the Steelers will need.
Notes: As alluded to above, the Steelers will be interested in finding depth at the tackle position, especially if for some reason they don’t work out a long-term extension with Beachum. If Villanueva offers anything, it’s a bonus. I fully expect a lineman to be added through the draft with Adams entering the final year of his contract.