The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers’ recent public storylines affect their appeal as a free agent destination?
The Steelers generally have among the very best reputations in all of the NFL in terms of their history on the field and with regard to how they do business. While they have certain limitations, largely self-imposed, that make themselves a less attractive landing spot for free agents the right player with the right fit wouldn’t balk at coming here unless his singular goal was to maximize full guarantees.
With a lot more salary cap space than they would ordinarily have, and a bit of a black eye from on and off the field, the Steelers figure to be more motivated than normal to be active in free agency as they try to get back into the postseason and quiet down the pitchfork-wielders who are ready to blow it all up and start over.
But will the team find that some free agents are skeptical about stepping into this locker room? The Steelers have been more widely-discussed than any other team this offseason, and for pretty much all the wrong reasons.
Even the likes of Cameron Heyward have come out and said that if any free agent looking at Pittsburgh has doubts that they should come talk to him. But the very fact that he would feel the desire to say that speaks to the potential of that scenario really coming to fruition.
Everybody from Ben Roethlisberger to Kevin Colbert and Art Rooney II has been in the crosshairs at some point or another this offseason, with basically nothing off-limits, and the only way to repair the hits to the Steelers’ reputation is to play through it. But will they have a hard time adding the necessary pieces as a result?