The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: Will the Steelers give Mike Hilton a long-term contract extension, and if so, when, and for what value?
With the Steelers haven’t already made it clear that their priority in free agency this year is to get Bud Dupree under contract for 2020—whether that means that they have to put the franchise tag on him or not—other business may have to fall in line. Including Mike Hilton’s situation, as he heads into his fourth season scheduled to be a restricted free agent.
While a second-round restricted free agent tender might be a hefty weight to bear for a temporary situation if they plan to later negotiate a long-term contract, one has to wonder how it would work out, exactly. Nickel cornerbacks can make good money these days. See Tavon Young, who signed three-year, $25.8 million extension with the Baltimore Ravens last year.
The total value of Young’s four-year deal came in around $7 million per season, but his year-one cap hit was still below $4 million, which is manageable, especially if the prelude to a deal is to go the RFA tender route, and as a former undrafted free agent, they would have to tag him at the second-round level to have any security.
That is what they did for B.J. Finney last year, even though he was a backup interior offensive lineman. Hilton is a guy who plays something like 600-700 snaps a season and is good at what he does. Could Cameron Sutton and Justin Layne possibly influence their thinking? Sutton is also entering the final year of his rookie deal, but without a consistent role, it’s unlikely he gets an extension.