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: Will the Steelers show serious interest in inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks?
Look, I already know what all the comments to this are going to be. They will either be ‘they should’, or ‘they better’, or ‘of course they will because they should’. But now that the Philadelphia Eagles have released inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks—a not entirely unpredictable outcome—it makes more sense than ever to talk about the potential pairing.
The Steelers tried to trade up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select Alabama inside linebacker Rashaan Evans, but the Tennessee Titans had the same idea, moving up with the Baltimore Ravens to nab in instead. As a result, Pittsburgh went through the whole draft process without taking any linebackers.
They did sign journeyman starter Jon Bostic in free agency and Matthew Thomas as an undrafted free agent. As OTAs opened up yesterday, though, it was reportedly Tyler Matakevich who received the first reps with the first-team defense.
Now that doesn’t mean that the plan going forward is for Matakevich to be the starter, or that it is his job to lose. But he is the only one between them who has run the defense before, this being Bostic’s first-ever practice with the Steelers.
But here’s what we do know: Pittsburgh tried to swing for the fences on an inside linebacker during the draft, and missed. The inside linebacker that they signed in free agency certainly doesn’t appear to be somebody that they are 100 percent guaranteeing a starting job.
It’s not at all unreasonable to think that they might try to add to the position when a talent such as Kendricks becomes available, which they showed last offseason with their late additions of Joe Haden and Vance McDonald.
The difference between then and now, of course, is that they had the cap space to work with. They don’t now. And that, in all likelihood, will be the determining factor in whether or not they are willing to seriously pursue Kendricks.