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 does free agent signing Morgan Burnett have left in the tank?
The Steelers were fortunate in finding the safety market rather deflated this offseason, as it enabled them to sign one of the top names at the position that was available in former Green Bay Packers member Morgan Burnett. But even in that addition they went a bit out of their comfort zone.
As regular followers of our site and insights are aware, it is an aberration for the team to have signed an outside free agent who is already so close to 30 who has not previously spent time with the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Burnett will turn 30 early in the 2018 playoffs.
He has also begun to miss games due to injuries, including four just last season and five games in 2015, though he has played at least 15 games in four of his eight seasons overall. He did play 15 games in 2016.
His injuries have the look of becoming chronic issues, however, of the soft tissue variety that could be recurring, and that would certainly be a problem. Now, the Steelers are obviously not looking at Burnett as the necessary long-term solution to one of the safety spots, considering he has already been in the league for eight years as it is, but I think it’s still fair to question what sort of effort from the start of the season to the end that he will be able to give in 2018, and perhaps 2019 as well.
Pittsburgh will probably be hoping to come out of the first two days of the upcoming draft later this month with a safety prospect that profiles as a long-term starter, but in the meantime, the most likely starting safety pairing entering this season will be Burnett and Sean Davis. How many games will Burnett play, and how many games will he play slowed by injuries? We had gotten used to such performances from Mike Mitchell, and am hoping for a change of pace.