The Pittsburgh Steelers now have their initial roster set for the 2017 season and while it might undergo a quick shuffling prior to their regular season opener, now is as good as time as any to take a look at the players currently under contract who are set to become free agents in 2018.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
RB Le’Veon Bell – After the Steelers failed to sign Bell to a long-term contract by the July 17 deadline, the running back is now scheduled to once again be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. In short, the Steelers will likely need to decide if Bell is worthy of the franchise tag after the 2017 season ends and if they decide to go that route, it will come with a $14.54 million price tag.
DE Stephon Tuitt – Tuitt’s status figures to change in the coming days as I still expect the team will sign him to a very lucrative contract extension prior to them boarding the team plane for Cleveland. For now, however, Tuitt is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and that’s why he’s on this list.
OLB Arthur Moats – Moats made the Steelers initial 53-man roster this year and is now scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. This might very well wind up being his last season in Pittsburgh as it’s hard to imagine the team will re-sign him during the offseason.
WR Justin Hunter – Hunter, who signed a one-year contract with the Steelers this past March, has a lot to prove in 2017. He’s still young, however, and a rebound season might lead to the Steelers considering re-signing him. With that said, Hunter might first decide to explore free agency if he puts up any kid of significant stats this season.
T Chris Hubbard – Hubbard signed a one-year restricted tender during the offseason and now figures to be the swing tackle and extra blocking tight end again in 2017. Moving past this season, Hubbard will likely want to explore unrestricted free agency in 2018 and the Steelers are likely going to let him do so.
DT Daniel McCullers – For now, McCullers is on the 53-man roster for 2017 but that could change quickly. Assuming he sticks all season, it’s hard to imagine him getting much playing time on defense and thus it’s likely 2017 will be his last year in Pittsburgh.
Restricted Free Agents
OLB Anthony Chickillo – The Steelers former draft pick will be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2017 season and assuming he stays healthy and productive, he’ll easily be retained with a tender at a yet to be determined level. It will either be an original round tender or a second round tender depending entirely on how much and how well he plays in 2017.
WR Eli Rogers – Rogers appears set to start the 2017 season as the Steelers starting slot wide receiver just as he did a year ago. Assuming he stays healthy and productive throughout the year, its not hard to imagine him being restricted tendered during the offseason and much like Chickillo, that level will ultimately decided by how he plays this season.
FB Roosevelt Nix – Nix, the team’s starting fullback and core special teams contributor, is poised for another great season. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Nix not receiving some sort of restricted tender from the Steelers next offseason.
K Chris Boswell – If the Steelers don’t sign Boswell to a contract extension over the course of the next several days, he will be scheduled to become a restricted free agent next offseason and thus a prime candidate to receive a second-round tender. Assuming that ultimately happens, the team would then likely look to sign him to a long-term contract by this same time next year.
P Jordan Berry – Berry is set to follow the same path as Boswell right now. As long as he has a productive 2017 season, he should receive a restricted tender during the offseason with that potentially followed by a long-term deal.
ILB L.J. Fort – Fort should be a restricted free agent after the 2018 season as long as he registers an accrued season. Like all other players on this list set to be restricted, it’s not hard to imagine him being tendered and in Fort’s case, likely at the lowest level.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
C/G B.J. Finney – Finney should be an exclusive rights free agent once again following the 2017 season and thus would likely be in situation similar to the one Alejandro Villanueva went through this offseason in that he’ll likely be highly underpaid. Regardless, there’s no reason to think the Steelers won’t tender Finney again at the minimum level and see how things go from there.
S Jordan Dangerfield – Dangerfield made the Steelers 53-man roster again this year and should be an ERFA after the season ends and ultimately easily retained with a minimal tender.
TE Xavier Grimble – Will Grimble stick all season on the roster? We’ll see. Regardless, he should be easily retained after the 2017 season with an exclusive rights tender.
LS Kameron Canaday – After beating out rookie draft pick Colin Holba for the long snapping job this year, Canaday should be an ERFA after the season ends and assuming he does his job well and sticks around, he’ll likely be tendered at the minimum.
G Matt Feiler – Feiler made the final roster this year after a strong preseason showing. We’ll see if he sticks all season and if he does, he’ll easily be retained as an ERFA after the season is over. For all we know, he might compete top be the Steelers starting left guard spot next year.
CB Mike Hilton – Hilton, one of this year’s camp phenom for the Steelers, made the 53-man roster and seems likely to stay there all season. Hell be an ERFA after the season and thus easily retained with a minimum exclusive rights tender.
RB Terrell Watson – Watson, like Hilton, turned a strong training camp and preseason into a 53-man roster spot. He will also be easily retained after the 2018 season via a minimum ERFA tender if stays on the roster all season.
CB Greg Ducre – For now, Ducre is on the Steelers Reserve/Injured list but I don’t expect him to remain there all season.
S Malik Golden – Golden was waived injured on Friday and thus should revert to the Steelers Reserve/Injured list. If that happens, he might not stay there all season.
C Mike Matthews – Matthews has been on the teams Reserve/Injured list for quite a while now and might remain there all season due to the seriousness of his injury.