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: Which restricted free agents will be tendered, and at what level?
Entering the day, as of this writing, the Steelers have three players who are restricted free agents, and they have until Wednesday at 4PM, the start of the new league year, to decide whether or not they will use a tender on them.
For two of them, it’s a no-brainer that they will not be tendered. That would be long snapper Kameron Canaday and reserve safety Jordan Dangerfield. Neither player justifies a cap hit of over $2 million, and should be safely retained on one-year contracts, for at or near the minimum.
The other three are all players that the Steelers would definitely like to retain, two of them being starters. The most significant of the three, especially in light of Ramon Foster’s retirement and B.J. Finney’s iffy free agency status, is Matt Feiler, who has started 26 games the past two seasons, including all 16 last year. It’s pretty much a definite that he will receive at least a second-round tender.
Mike Hilton is also likely to be given a second-round tender as the starting nickel back, but with the salary cap coming in lower than expected, they may be more reluctant to do this.
The other remaining player in question is Zach Banner. Earlier in the week, he seemed to imply that he’s been told he may not be given a tender, and that the team would like to re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent at a lower value. We should know the answers to these questions within a couple of days.