We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had 15 primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed a number of them, those being Ramon Foster, Tyson Alualu, Anthony Chickillo, Daniel McCullers, and Jordan Berry. Significant unrestricted free agents who signed elsewhere were Le’Veon Bell, Jesse James, and L.J. Fort. They re-signed seven exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, and Xavier Grimble, as they await Mike Hilton’s signing.
Also of note were the release of Morgan Burnett, the trades of Antonio Brown and Marcus Gilbert, and three significant signings in free agency, adding starters at cornerback, inside linebacker, and potentially wide receiver in Steven Nelson, Mark Barron, and Donte Moncrief, respectively. Maurkice Pouncey also received a two-year contract extension.
Total Positional Figure: 4
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 2
Sean Davis: The only player at safety on the roster with more than two years of accrued experience is Davis, who moved to free safety for the first time last season. He had an inconsistent performance but was generally better in spite of a lack of turnovers. This is a big contract year for him, assuming he doesn’t get extended in the summer.
Terrell Edmunds: Last year’s first-round pick, Edmunds started 15 of 16 games and played a lot of that 16th game as well. But he also had to take his lumps during that stretch. He did come out the better for it on the other end, but now the question is what type of player he’s going to be now that he’s settled in.
Jordan Dangerfield: Dangerfield is still hanging around, having spent two of the past three years on the 53-man roster and much of the other three seasons surrounding that time on the practice squad.
Marcus Allen: A fifth-round rookie last year, the Steelers drafted him because they though he represented strong value at that part of the draft, as they had not fourth-round pick. He played dime due to injuries against the Chargers last year but was mostly inactive throughout the season. Unless they add another two safeties though it will be hard to see him sitting this year.
Players Added: N/A
Morgan Burnett: The Steelers signed him to be a bridge starter, but injuries kept him off the field long enough for first-round rookie Edmunds to move past him. By the time he got back after the bye week, the team was comfortable with where they were and he was stuck playing dime, where he wasn’t very happy—or effective—and so they released him, as they both wanted.
Nat Berhe: Brought in to play special teams, he did that—but only on kick returns—until he suffered a season-ending injury. In the interim, he had a brief spell as the dimeback while Burnett was injured.
Notes And Draft Outlook: A year after going into the season with six safeties, the Steelers only have four on the roster right now, which means that it’s likely they will address it in the draft. It’s worth noting that they have some players they believe a safety-capable in Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton, but neither of them possess the size you would want from the position.