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: What was the single most significant free agency move made within the division?
While activity levels came at different times and in different forms, all four teams within the AFC North participated in a variety of ways in free agency, with some seeing a net surplus influx of talent and others a net deficit. The Steelers were slow to act, but signed four players after the first several days of free agency, for example.
But who made the most significant move in the division in free agency—or had it done to them? As far as significant moves go, Pittsburgh is probably at the bottom of the list, with the most significant component of their free agency so far having been the loss of Lawrence Timmons, a blow they were already prepared to take.
A blow less-well prepared for was the Bengals losing Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, but they do have two young tackles of high pedigree waiting in the wings entering their third seasons. If they actually end up working out, which was the plan two years ago, after all, then this will be forgotten.
Their other major loss was the biggest gain in the division, as the Browns signed their right guard, Kevin Zeitler. Given how bad their offensive line was last season, this may well prove to be the most significant free agent move that any team in the division was involved with. Bonus points for involving more than one team.
The Ravens, meanwhile, continue to reshape their secondary, adding new starters at cornerback and safety with Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson. The re-signing of Brandon Williams is obviously significant. But how big will the loss of Rick Wagner at right tackle end up being?
The Steelers did try to make a major move this year, to their credit. Even if you don’t believe the early reports of them seeking a top cornerback, they clearly made a strong push for Dont’a Hightower, hosting him for about six hours.v