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: If the Steelers address only one position in free agency, what should it be?
We know the Steelers are expected to be tight up against the cap, so it might not be entirely unrealistic to think they may only sign one player from the outside in free agency, and chances are he’s not going to be a name to get particularly excited about.
A couple of ground rules for this exercise. For starters, we’re working under the assumption that Bud Dupree gets hit with the franchise tag and Javon Hargrave is not re-signed. We can also safely conclude that Anthony Chickillo and Mark Barron will be released in order to clear cap space for Dupree’s tag.
There are still a lot of other things that we don’t know. Will B.J. Finney leave in free agency? Will they re-sign Nick Vannett? Will Ramon Foster be a salary cap casualty as well? How about Vance McDonald, will they pick his option up?
In other words, there are still other dominoes to fall before we can more accurately and responsibly guess at what the Steelers could or should do with the limited cap space they will have to work with to sign free agents from other teams.
Arguably the one hole they we pretty much definitely know they will have to fill is at defensive tackle with Hargrave leaving, so my money—or the Steelers’ salary cap—would be used to bring in somebody there. Even if you end up drafting somebody, that would just challenge Daniel McCullers’ roster spot, which has its own value.