The season might not quite be over for another couple of days, but 30 teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, have already hit offseason mode following their elimination, either prior to or during the playoffs. Pittsburgh got quite far this year, reaching the AFC Championship game for the first time since 2010
But before we get too deep into the offseason, it’s time to take a look at the Steelers’ roster as it appears to be shaping up as we look ahead to 2017.
As with almost every other team, the Steelers have already made some roster tweaks, signing several players to Reserve/Futures contracts, tenders, and other sorts of contract, , so here is a position-by-position look at how the team looks heading into the offseason.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Total Positional Figure: 8
Alejandro Villanueva: I know that there were a lot of people a couple of years ago daydreaming about the prospect of Villanueva turning someday into a franchise left tackle. It was a longshot, but he’s done just that. He has quite a backstory, but it’s no longer a prerequisite to qualify what he is doing on the field, because his play speaks for itself.
Marcus Gilbert: And who would have thought that the Steelers would have two very good starting offensive tackles? Because they do. The only bugaboo for Gilbert in recent years has been staying healthy. But there were stretches of this season during which he was their best lineman.
Chris Hubbard: This isn’t exactly what I was expecting to be writing about Chris Hubbard this year, but he really did a nice job filling in for Gilbert at right tackle for three games. He also played well down the stretch as a frequently-used extra lineman. He’s definitely earned his keep on the depth chart.
Ryan Harris: But he isn’t the only depth that they have. They did ink Ryan Harris to a two-year deal, but really, at this point, they may not even need him in 2017. Right as he was called upon, he got injured as well and went on injured reserve.
Jerald Hawkins: Joining him on the sidelines was rookie fourth-round pick Jerald Hawkins. It’s really unfortunate that we didn’t get to see more of him because he looked good in the first preseason game. I’m optimistic about his ability to at least provide valuable depth.
Brian Mihalik: Brian Mihalik’s football story is a bit similar to Villanueva’s as a conversion project from defensive end. He’s also 6’9”. They signed him to the 53-man roster after Harris was injured, but he never got into a game. another body in the mix.
Matt Feiler: Feiler has been around for a bit as well, in camp for the past two years, but he has worked more at guard last year. He was on the practice squad and is back on a Reserve/Future contract.
Keavon Milton: Keavon Milton spent about half the season on the practice squad as well and is back on a Reserve/Future contract. He has spent a bit of time in the league before.
Offseason Strategy: Strategy? You have quality starters. You have depth. Nothing to see here. Don’t touch anything. Just figure out how you’re going to retain Chris Hubbard as a restricted free agent. Tender him or sign him to a multi-year deal? And it you tender him, do you do it as an original-round tender (he was undrafted) or a higher one?