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: Where would you rank the defensive line need for the Steelers this offseason relative to other positions (assuming that Bud Dupree is retained for at least 2020)?
The only ‘starting’ player that the Steelers are expected to lose this offseason, who hasn’t already been replaced, is Javon Hargrave, the four-year veteran defensive tackle. And even in that starting role, never missing a game due to injury, he has only averaged about 500 snaps per season, including over 700 last year as a career-high due to Stephon Tuitt’s injury.
But another team running another defensive system is going to look at him and throw money at him, knowing that he has a bigger role for him to play. So it’s safe to assume that Hargrave is going to be in a different uniform in 2020.
That means the Steelers will have 400 or so snaps to replace. Daniel McCullers isn’t going to absorb them. Isaiah Buggs is not, either. Even if they decide to re-sign L.T. Walton, which they chose not to already last year, that still won’t fill that void.
The Steelers will have to add another defensive tackle to this roster, either in free agency or the draft, but given the position, how high does it have to be on the priority list? Obviously the list still needs to be worked out depending on what moves the team makes in terms of releases and re-signings, but as it stands right now, where do you put it relative to other positions on the roster?