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: What are the Steelers’ top three priority positions to address this offseason following the signing of Steven Nelson?
Breaking: the Steelers actually signed a free agent that didn’t come from the bargain bin. It wasn’t a name that was on a lot of people’s radars in the Kansas City Chiefs’ Steven Nelson, but Pittsburgh thought enough of him to pay him over $8 million per season over three years—the largest per-year salary given to an outside free agent in team history outside of Joe Haden, who got $9 million per season.
So that solves one problem. Haden and Nelson are your starting cornerbacks for 2019, with Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton competing for playing time in the slot. After years of failing to draft the position well, they’ve turned to two free agents that they’ve paid more than any other in seeking a solution.
So where does that leave the Steelers? They still have questions at their number two tight end and wide receiver spots, and they also need an inside linebacker. While they re-signed Anthony Chickillo, outside linebacker is still very much on my radar, especially looking ahead to 2020.
Of course inside linebacker is going to be number one. They don’t have anybody on the current roster who should be trusted to be a full-time mack. But they could sell out in the draft to get one of the top two players at the position, rather than look to free agency.
Of course whatever they don’t address in free agency they’ll have to try to tackle in the draft. They still need to round out the defensive line group with two more players, and it’s unlikely that they would spend two draft picks there, so a modest free agent signing is very likely there.
Throw in a number three back and a dimebacker and that pretty much covers things. So what are your top three positions of concern, in order, and how would you choose to tackle them?