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: Are the Steelers done signing outside free agents?
Over the course of the first two official days of free agency, the Steelers signed two free agents. It must have been an exhausting ordeal for them considering the period of rest that they normally practice at this time of year, but they were able to add a starting outside cornerback in Steven Nelson and a competitor for a starting wide receiver position in Donte Moncrief.
But as any Steelers fan should be aware, there’s a pretty reasonable chance that they’re done now, at least with regards to bringing in outside players. Especially if they intend to hold on to their third-round compensatory draft pick for Le’Veon Bell’s contract with the New York Jets.
A team must lose more free agents in total that qualify for the compensatory pick formula than they sign in order to be eligible for any, regardless of the discrepancy of their compensatory value. Currently, the Steelers have signed two and lost three, the others being tight end Jesse James and inside linebacker L.J. Fort.
Among the other free agents of theirs who remain available are wide receivers Justin Hunter and Darrius Heyward-Bey, defensive lineman L.T. Walton, safety Nat Berhe, and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh. The harsh reality is that nobody is going to be pounding down the door for any of them.
Given the value of a third-round compensatory pick, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the Steelers might avoid signing another unrestricted free agent during the initial free agency window, but that doesn’t prevent them from signing players who have been released, or unrestricted free agents past the compensatory deadline, later in the offseason.
There are still some holes that it would be nice to fill, particularly the number two tight end position, a dime safety, a veteran running back, and, oh, I don’t know, maybe a linebacker or two. But they also have 10 draft picks this year, which is their preferred method of roster building.