The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: If the Steelers could only retain one, who do you believe to be more important to their long-term success, Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell?
The Steelers are entering an offseason in which they are slated to have by a comfortable margin the most salary cap space that they have had in the free agency era. Yet astute observers understand that thy big money will still go quickly after they get through signing and re-signing and extending many of their own key pieces.
As every year passes and the salary cap increases, so too does the price tag on every player and every position. Unlike the economy, inflation includes wages and not just goods and services. So don’t be surprised, for example, if Stephon Tuitt is able to net himself a contract somewhere in Cameron Heyward’s ball park.
Le’Veon Bell is scheduled to become a free agent, but there are already reports that the Steelers have the intention of slapping the franchise tag on him. When the Steelers do that for a player it generally means that they intend to work out a long-term deal later in the offseason.
Antonio Brown is not scheduled to become a free agent, as he still has a year left on his contract, but it is widely expected that he and the team will work out a new deal. There was even a report that they have already begun discussing a new deal.
It’s not guaranteed that either or both actually get done, although my instinct tells me that Brown will receive a long-term deal this offseason, and Bell will at minimum play under the tag, though I think a deal gets done with him too.
But if the Steelers had to choose one or the other—or decided to choose to go with one over the other—who do you believe is more vital to the team’s long-term success over the course of the next several seasons? Both Brown and Bell are All-Pro talents. Bell is a bit younger, but his position has a shorter shelf life.