We started this series with less than two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had 10 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed four of them, those being Le’Veon Bell, Justin Hunter, Stevan Ridley, and Daniel McCullers. The only unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere has been Chris Hubbard. They resigned nine exclusive rights or restricted free agents, from Fitzgerald Toussaint and Mike Hilton to Chris Boswell and Roosevelt Nix.
Also of note were the released of William Gay, Mike Mitchell, and Robert Golden, the three most veteran players in the secondary. The team has signed three outside free agents in Jon Bostic, Morgan Burnett, and Nat Berhe. Now we examine how these moves and their pre-draft hints shape their future based on position since the offseason has begun.
Total Positional Figure: 3
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger played some of the worst football of his career in the first half of the 2017 season, and then played some of the best of his career in the second half. After a season of contemplating retirement, the team feels assured that he at least intends to try to play for a few more seasons yet.
Landry Jones: The veteran backup, Jones is entering his sixth season with the team and is now entrenched in that role. I think he played his best game of his career to date in last season’s regular season finale against the Browns, a game that could have gotten a lot better for him if he didn’t have to work for most of it with a center unaccustomed to snapping. He is entering a contract year.
Joshua Dobbs: Last year’s fourth-round draft pick, Joshua Dobbs spent the year on the bench as expected. He looked mostly pedestrian during the preseason outside of a handful of strong throws, but his long-term prospects necessarily are up in the air.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook: As much as it might pain some of you to read this, the quarterback position is one that has to be taken seriously when it comes to being a potential draft target for the Steelers, though in this case I think it is first round or bust.
They already have two backup-type players in Jones and Dobbs. In other words, if they take a quarterback, it’s going to be one that they believe is the heir apparent to Roethlisberger. Art Rooney II after drafting Dobbs a year ago pretty much came out and said they don’t see him that way.
The obvious name to note is Mason Rudolph. They brought him in for a visit and scouted him heavily at his pro day. Either they’re really intrigued by him or he’s their case study for how to evaluate a franchise quarterback when they finally do have to draft one.