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 position are the Steelers most likely to add to in free agency prior to the draft?
While we sit here roughly a month away from the 2019 NFL Draft, the Steelers have managed to fill some pretty sizeable holes, bolstering the wide receiver, inside linebacker, and cornerback positions with starters or starter-capable personnel, essentially wiping out any ‘needs’ in the starting lineup, giving them more flexibility when it comes to sticking to their draft board.
That said, there are still some holes on the roster that are going to have to be addressed at some point. A third running back is wanted, or at least competition. The same can be said—even more so—for the tight end position. If Matt Feiler starts at right tackle again, they may want to add another interior lineman.
There is still a second hole to fill along the defensive line even after the team re-signed both Tyson Alualu and Daniel McCullers. With the news of Morgan Burnett’s pending departure, coupled with a relatively deep safety market, an add could be made there.
The thing is, even if it were not for their cap restrictions, the team would be heavily advised to stay well below budget, because signing a free agent to a contract that would qualify in the compensatory pick formula would sabotage their projected third-round pick for the loss of Le’Veon Bell.
For the moment, Over the Cap currently projects the lowest-valued contract to qualify for a compensatory pick in 2020 as being that of Josh Mauro’s (remember him?), who signed a contract worth $1.3 million. Things can still change with other players being signed, which would raise the price of the lowest-qualifying contract, but teams signing free agents could also cancel out their own picks, thus lowering the price.
As it currently stands, basically, the team could sign a player to a contract worth $1.2 million and they should be safe, with that contract not registering for the formula and thus not affecting their third-round compensation. That price range should be more than enough to sign a depth player at one of the positions named above, which would increase their draft flexibility.