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: How many more outside free agents will the Steelers sign between now and the draft?
As it currently stands, the Steelers have signed two players via outside free agency, adding fullback Derek Watt on a three-year contract worth $9.75 million, and later Stefen Wisnieski, an interior offensive lineman, last night. In contrast, despite having the fewest unrestricted free agents, they have lost something like the second-most players already, with Javon Hargrave, Sean Davis, Tyler Matakevich, and B.J. Finney all finding new homes.
Coupled with the retirement of Ramon Foster, the loss of Finney creates a hole in the starting offensive line as well as the depth. Wisniewski did start last season, but he may not be viewed as a guaranteed starter, so this area could still be addressed. Depth may wait until the draft.
While the nose tackle, even an athletic one like Hargrave, is reduced to 400-500 snaps per year, his departure leaves a significant hole in the defensive front as well, with only Daniel McCullers another nose tackle on the roster. This is another obvious area of need.
Though it was predictable, Davis’ departure also means they lack quality depth at safety, another key spot to address behind their two young starters. They have no experience behind their starting linebackers—either inside or outside—either.