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: Will the Steelers bring back Justin Gilbert at a lower salary?
The Steelers have made it a habit in recent years of making a trade for a cornerback for depth purposes after Senquez Golson suffers an annual injury. That is an unfair remark, of course, and it’s entirely possible that the former second-round draft pick suits up and plays a key role in the defense this season.
But the point of the matter is that the two cornerbacks that they have traded for over the course of the past two years have either had their contracts expire or have been released. The latter was the case for Justin Gilbert, the more recent of the two, and a former top-10 draft pick of the Browns.
The release was not entirely unpredictable if you consider the relatively little playing time he received and the fairly significant salary that he otherwise would have come his way had he remained on the Steelers’ 53-man roster. But it became even more obvious after it was learned that a prior suspension with the Browns voided guarantees in his contract that there is still a possibility that he could return to the Steelers.
Bob Labriola hinted recently that the Steelers do still like him, but not for the salary that they would have paid him. Now, they were obviously willing to lose him given that they released him, but Labriola left the door more than ajar for the possibility that Pittsburgh at some point re-sign him at a lower salary.
That is the same thing that Jim Wexell was told in an article that is unfortunately behind a pay wall, but the fact that multiple people with access to members of the organization have come to the understanding that Gilbert might be brought back is enough for me to believe in the possibility.
So here, then, is the question: will Justin Gilbert be re-signed by the Steelers at some point this season? It’s almost purely a guess, but it is an interesting question to consider. If they did indeed like him, but simply balked at what they would have had to pay him, then it’s a more than reasonable question to ask.