The Pittsburgh Steelers entered this league year with well over a dozen players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency. They ended up retaining five of those unrestricted free agents, and also tendered their two restricted free agents.
Pittsburgh also added help from outside of the organization at wide receiver, defensive line, running back, and cornerback, but suffered several free agency losses, chiefly at wide receiver and linebacker, and suffered yet another retirement in the process. There was one significant player release, and no contracts were restructured. One franchise tag and one major extension also transpired. They still have four unrestricted free agents who remain unsigned.
The organization has been clear throughout recent weeks that they have essentially wrapped up all meaningful free agent activities, with the focus turning to the draft, so now is a good time to take a look back and see where each position started at the beginning of the process and where it is now leading up to the draft.
Total Positional Figure: 3
Offseason additions: 0
Offseason losses: 0
Ben Roethlisberger: The Steelers’ hopes for a championship, as always, ride or die with Ben Roethlisberger. That is the fate of the average NFL team hoping to vie for a title. The quarterback position cannot simply be compensated for. You need a quality player there.
Which is why Roethlisberger’s retirement talk and the fact that he is hitting his mid-30s now has the team bracing for the inevitable future after he retires. Whether that is a year from now or five years from now, they are ‘sharpening’ their proverbial swords when it comes to evaluating their quarterback of the future
Landry Jones: Because they already know that it’s not Landry Jones, a former fourth-round draft pick that they have gotten a good four years’ worth of study on now. The Steelers did re-sign him on the opening day of free agency to a modest deal to continue to be Roethlisberger’s backup, and that his plateau. Which is not bad.
Zach Mettenberger: Then there is Zach Mettenberger, the guy that several people seem to love and hold out hopes for. Those who actually get the opportunity to watch him in practice seem to all agree that third on the depth chart is as high as he’ll climb.
Players Added: N/A
Players Lost/Not Retained: N/A
Notes and Draft Outlook: When the Steelers drafted Jones four years ago, they did so under the guise of cleaning out and freshening up the quarterback room. They dumped both of their veteran backups and took on Jones, adding another veteran to serve as a bridge until the rookie could be the backup.
They are looking to freshen up the room once again, but the stakes are far higher. It’s a lot more complicated trying to draft a franchise quarterback when you’re picking 30th, but it’s something that the Steelers are now legitimately considering. They have already had a couple in for visits, most notably Patrick Mahomes, and Roethlisberger was on hand to greet the potential future Steelers signal-callers.