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 Mike Mitchell complete his contract with the Steelers as a starter? Should he?
It has been a topic of conversation over the course of the past couple of days, so I figured it would be interesting to bring the question to the floor: will veteran Steelers safety Mike Mitchell complete his five-year contract with the team in a starting role?
There are many who were already hoping that they would see him displaced in the starting lineup this upcoming season, and many who are of the belief that he is going to be cut after this season as his cap hit increases. He currently has two years remaining on the five-year deal.
A former second-round draft pick of the Raiders, Mitchell started the majority of the 2013 season for the Panthers, and parlayed his success in that year into a five-year, $25 million contract, of which three have now been completed, with him starting every game.
He has frequently played through injury—he reportedly had multiple groin tears throughout the 2014 season—but he has put up solid numbers over the years, including four interceptions and 18 passes defensed over the past two.
He certainly is not the perfect safety—he is not quite the center-fielding Ed Reed, nor is he the surest tackler in terms of angles and consistency of technique—but he does everything well enough to continue to start for the past four seasons in the league.
And as has been talked about on and off this offseason, he has played a critical role in the rapid maturation of the Steelers’ two rookie starters in the secondary last year. He has been a good teammate and presence in the locker room, even if he isn’t the warmest toward the media—perhaps not without reason.
Fans have been clamoring for the team to make more pushes in free agency, but, at least to some, their ‘splashes’ in recent years have been thoroughly disappointing, based on their high expectations. I think it’s likely that the Steelers look for a safety high in next year’s draft, which will make this question much more interesting heading into his final season under contract—assuming he doesn’t receive an extension.