Steelers 2020 Free Agency Primer: Restricted Free Agents

The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason is now officially underway as of Sunday evening and between now and the start of the new league year in March the team will need to make several decisions regarding the players scheduled to become free agents. In this post, we’ll look at the five Steelers players scheduled to become restricted free agents at the start of the new league year in March.

CB Mike Hilton – Hilton, who was retained last offseason as an exclusive rights free agent, is now scheduled to be restricted come March. The former undrafted free agent put together a nice 2019 season as he recorded 63 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, 11 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The Steelers are now likely to reward Hilton with a second-round restricted tender during the offseason and that should come with an estimated price tag of around $3.278 million. Hilton earned $645,000 in 2019 so that would be a sizable raise for him. The Steelers could decide to sign Hilton to a contract extension later in the offseason as well. If that were ultimately the course of action, it would likely lower is 2020 salary cap charge some. Regardless, Hilton figures to be back with the Steelers in 2020 and odds are good it will be under a second-round restricted tender.

T Matt Feiler – Feiler started all 16 games for the Steelers in 2019 with 15 of those starts coming at right tackle and one other coming at left guard. Is Feiler’s future past this season at left guard? It’s quite possible depending on what happens with Ramon Foster and B.J. Finney this offseason. Regardless of plans of where Feiler plays in 2020, positionally, odds are good that he’ll also receive a second-round restricted tender prior to the start of the new league year in March. If the Steelers were to only issue Feiler a lowly right-of-first-refusal restricted tender, odds would then be good that another team would sign him to an offer sheet that the Steelers might not be interested in matching.

T Zach Banner – Banner played a ton of snaps in 2019 as a tackle eligible and in 2020 he might be in the running to be the new starting right tackle should Feiler be retained and kicked over to left guard. Regardless, look for Banner to be restricted tendered at an original round level prior to start of the new league year and that price tag should come in at around $2.144 million. No team is likely to give up a fourth-round draft pick as compensation for signing Banner away from the Steelers.

LS Kameron Canaday – The Steelers long snapper might be an early re-signing this offseason and thus might avoid being restricted tendered. Assuming the Steelers are wanting to retain Canaday, they might try to sign him to a two-year contract in the coming weeks instead of placing a right-of-first-refusal or second-round restricted tender on him. Regardless, look for Canady to be retained this offseason and likely sooner rather than later. The Steelers are very loyal to their long snappers over the years.

S Jordan Dangerfield – The former undrafted safety out of Towson continues to make himself uncuttable. Dangerfield stuck on the Steelers 53-man roster all throughout the 2019 season as a core special teams player. He posted 12 total special teams tackles in 2019 and forced one fumble. Do the Steelers think highly enough of Dangerfield to give him a right-of-first-refusal restricted tender this offseason? It’s hard to say for sure with the team being up against the salary cap in 2020. Should Dangerfield ultimately not receive a low restricted tender from the Steelers, perhaps he’ll re-sign for the minimum later in the offseason. The Steelers don’t have any experienced depth at the safety position at this point so that’s another thing that bodes well for Dangerfield regarding him possibly receiving a low-level restricted free agent tender in the coming weeks and months.

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