The Pittsburgh Steelers, as an organization, as a team, and as a locker room, are facing a significant challenge this offseason, a year after many believe that in-house drama leaked onto the field and helped lead them to missing the postseason for the first time since 2013.
While a team is ultimately judged by what they do on the field, and in particular on the scoreboard—if you win games, you win games, it’s that simple—the reality is that everything that goes into creating a team has its contributions to the wins and losses.
So after yet another year of drama, and this time including two of their biggest stars, the Steelers have to figure out how they can walk a balance between having stars, treating them appropriately, and maintaining a healthy locker room all at the same time without damaging their ability to compete.
There seems to be consensus gathering that it’s quickly becoming necessary for Antonio Brown to be dealt in order for there to be harmony within the locker room. Even as some of his most prominent teammates publicly seek reconciliation and argue that the situation from the inside is nowhere near as bad as it is from the outside, it’s becoming a harder and harder sell as Brown begins to open his mouth more and more.
But how much more is it than Brown—and Le’Veon Bell, of course? Everything starts with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the franchise quarterback is the one piece that you can never move except under utterly extreme circumstances. So you can work with Roethlisberger, and even work around him, but he is going to be, and has to be, a part of the fabric of the team in 2019 and beyond.
Ray Fittipaldo wonders how much further the issues go beyond Brown. In talking about Roethlisberger and his status with the rest of the team, he argued that while he may not be well-liked by some in the locker room, he does have the respect of most—but not all.
“Maybe it’s time to weed more players out than just Brown”, he added in the answer to a commenter’s question during his most recent chat session. Certainly, we have heard rumblings of things here and there, but there haven’t been names attached.
So what is the state, the health, of the Steelers’ locker room? How much work needs to be done in order to get it into strong shape? Is a significant trimming really necessary? If so, how many players, and who might they be?