With the 2018 season completely in the books and 2019 staring us down just around the corner, it’s time to pause and take stock of the current state of the Pittsburgh Steelers by looking at their roster as it stands now, going position by position.
The new league year officially begins on March 13, and coincides with the start of free agency. Between now and then, the Steelers figure to make a couple more decisions about what the roster will look like, including the signing of a couple more of their pending unrestricted free agents. There are a few other loose ends to tie up before then as well.
Total Positional Figure: 7
Sean Davis: Making the conversion from strong safety to free, Davis had an up and down year in his new role, but it could take time to build a level of comfort there. He also had a new partner to work with in Edmunds while adjusting to the new position at the same time.
Terrell Edmunds: The Steelers’ first-round draft pick, Edmunds wasn’t supposed to play nearly 1000 snaps as a rookie, but that’s how it worked out due to injury. He has a steep learning curve early on but looked more comfortable as the season wore on and even made some plays. Still, he needs to take a big step in year two.
Morgan Burnett: Burnett was brought in via free agency to start, and he would have if he didn’t have a new soft tissue injury every week. He should be released in the next couple of days to clear his $5 million base salary from the books, since he requested it anyway.
Jordan Dangerfield: It seems like he’s been hear for a decade by now, but 2018 was only Dangerfield’s second accrued season. He became a special teams staple and even found a niche role as an extra safety in their heavy 3-4 look against power run looks.
Marcus Allen: The other draft pick safety, Allen was inactive for almost all of his rookie season, but he did get to play on defense in one game against the Chargers due to injury. He had a pretty solid performance when it came to coverage, but he let things slip against the run in the fourth quarter.
Nat Berhe: The other free agent safety brought in, at this point it’s hard to recall that he was even on the roster very long, but he even spent some time playing the dime before he went down with an injury. I don’t think he will be re-signed.
Malik Golden: Tough break for Golden, literally, who has suffered season-ending injuries in the preseason in each of the past two years, even after looking halfway decent. He spent 2018 on injured reserve but will not be under contract soon, though of course he can rehab with the team.
Offseason Strategy: Release Burnett, try to strike in deep safety market for depth/dime.
The Steelers don’t have an obvious number three safety in this group, which generally means it should be addressed in some way, and that’s especially the case because of their desire to employ three-safety looks. This is one of the deepest safety classes in free agency in recent memory, so they could try to turn Burnett’s cap savings into a better replacement.