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Connecting Free Agency Dots Builds Draft Picture

The Pittsburgh Steelers have certainly not been silent when it has come to adding and re-signing players in free agency—and just before it—re-signing key starters at left guard and cornerback, and assuring maintaining depth at wide receiver and safety. On the outside market, they have added a tackle, a tight end, and an inside linebacker.

With the retirement of Heath Miller, the Steelers addressed that hole by going outside of the team to sign Ladarius Green to a four-year, $20 million contract. Losing Kelvin Beachum, they added Ryan Harris to compete at left tackle. A pair of inside linebacker defections was partially offset by the signing of Steven Johnson.

But it’s also worth noting the players that they have brought in and did not sign. They brought in two other inside linebackers before signing Johnson. They have also brought in two interior offensive linemen as well as two defensive linemen, none of which left Pittsburgh with a signed contract.

It’s worth noting because, taking a look at their collective paper trail, it points toward what is likely their draft strategy, even if it might not be much of a revelation to say it. A cumulative interpretation of the players that they have signed and kicked the tires on tells us that the Steelers are likely targeting three primary areas next month: secondary, defensive line, and interior offensive line.

The interest in the secondary is most notable given how little they have explored the outside market, choosing rather to re-sign two of their own defensive backs. But they have already lost one cornerback on the open market, and are likely to lose another at some point over the course of this week.

It seems obvious that the Steelers have deemed to secondary market to high a price to pay, following their supposed interest in Eric Weddle, though it is said that they never formally made him an offer after getting a feel for what his market would be.

That means that they have decided, likely, to focus on bolstering the secondary—both the cornerback and safety positions—through the draft. Again, a predictable claim, but one that can be extrapolated based on the information that we have been able to gather over the course of the offseason.

With two defensive linemen hitting the market, with one already having signed elsewhere and the other not likely to be re-signed, the Steelers are sure to address this area of the team during the draft, but it would seem that they also would like to be able to add one piece to the puzzle during free agency to get a veteran into the mix.

The interior offensive line interest took me a bit by surprise—at least in terms of the quality of players that they kicked the tires on, by my perception—but the fact that they brought these players in makes it clear that it is a target of interest, regardless of what the motivation behind it might be.

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