While there is still a lot of the offseason to go, including free agency, a number of outlets are already putting grades and analyses up about what every team in the league has accomplished to date, since the new league year opened last week.
Pro Football Focus was the latest, offering a grade for every team to date. They gave the Pittsburgh Steelers an ‘Average’ rating for their moves, with the biggest sticking point—and this will not shock you in the slightest—being their inevitable decision to place the franchise tag on Bud Dupree.
In an earlier article in which they graded a number of individual moves, it was almost unanimous that they rated every move pertaining to an edge defender as Below Average, which included the Steelers tagging Dupree and the Baltimore Ravens tagging Matthew Judon. In general, they don’t believe big-money contracts for edge defenders are as important as having depth.
“We weren’t fans of tagging edge defender Bud Dupree”, the article reads. “Yes, he had a career year in 2019 and generated a 76.3 pass-rush grade that ranked 24th at his position, but he had never even touched the top-60 in any of his four seasons prior”.
While there is a point to be made here, it’s also hard to see what the Steelers would have done without tagging Dupree, as it would have left them with only Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper behind T.J. Watt at outside linebacker, and they have limited draft resources.
Despite the big cap hit that came with tagging Dupree, that did not stop the Steelers from making some moves in free agency, and PFF was a fan of them, though they did not have any comment on the signing of Derek Watt or trade acquisition of Chris Wormley.
“Compared to what some teams paid for offensive guards, Pittsburgh got an absolute steal in Stefen Wisniewski”, the article reads. They signed the 31-year-old veteran interior lineman, with over 100 starts under his belt, to a deal less than half that signed by former Steelers lineman B.J. Finney. Maybe less than a third if the latter earns his incentives.
“Signing athletic tight end Eric Ebron to just a two-year deal worth $12 million was another great move on the Steelers’ part”, the piece adds. While noting his legitimate drop issues, “he is one of the few tight ends who can play in the slot or outside and remain productive. Ebron has run the fifth-most routes from the slot or outside over the last two seasons and averaged an impressive 1.62 yards per route run”.
Perhaps most important is the fact that the Steelers were able to hit on pretty much all of their biggest needs with this offseason moves ahead of the draft, which is especially important this year with only six picks, and only one in the top 100.