The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: How much will the Steelers use Roosevelt Nix, and the fullback position, next season?
I phrased the above question this way because I intend it to be two questions. The Steelers like themselves some Roosevelt Nix, enough to offer him a long-term, four-year contract after he completed his third season in the NFL. While he surely wasn’t handed big money, that shows confidence that he will be a contributor.
Now a lot of his contributions are obviously going to come on special teams, which is where he initially earned his roster spot in the first place. I know he had a blocked punt in his first preseason here and a number of tackles. He’s since had another punt blocked, a forced fumble or two, and a whole bunch of tone-setting tackles and hits in the underappreciated third phase of the game.
But that’s all taken as a given when we’re talking about Nix. How—and how often—is he going to be used on offense? Last season, we saw them actually trying to get him the ball a bit more late in the year, giving him a couple of rushing attempts (and even more in the Pro Bowl, which doesn’t exactly count), even scoring two touchdowns.
Giving the bulldozer a touch here and there is evidently something that gets discussed with some degree of regularity, though it never occurs as frequently as might be suggested by that. Remember when we thought Will Johnson was going to become a real contributor?
Heading into the offseason a year ago, his position coach, James Saxon, talked about his hands, saying he believes he can be a good receiver. I don’t know about him ever getting many carries, but it at least appears to be an option on the table now.
The team even moved him around a bit more last year, motioning him out of the backfield and into the slot, or even outside, throwing out of 22 personnel (with mixed results, admittedly). They have even aligned him as a fullback a couple of times. Is the long-term commitment really that—a commitment to Nix, and perhaps giving him a bit more opportunities to contribute?