A few days ago, Pro Football Focus published an article in which they break down the biggest need this offseason for every team in the NFL, in addition to notable secondary needs. When it came time to discuss the Pittsburgh Steelers, writer Ben Linsey came away with the interior offensive line as the runner-up for the AFC North’s biggest need.
The Steelers have had one of the most stable and consistent offensive lines in the NFL over the last several seasons, but it could be time to inject some new life into the group, particularly on the interior. Ramon Foster is 34 years old and coming off the worst overall PFF grade of his career in 2019. Maurkice Pouncey is also coming off the lowest PFF grade of his career and carries a cap hit of $11 million in both 2020 and 2021. It would behoove the Steelers to start looking toward the future at those positions, especially with backup interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney entering free agency.
While Maurkice Pouncey did not have his best season in 2019, PFF has a long history of being much more critical of his play than virtually every other source imaginable that pays any kind of nuanced attention to the game. It goes without saying that Pouncey will be a Steeler until he chooses to retire, most likely.
As for Ramon Foster, that is a different discussion that is tied to B.J. Finney as he hits unrestricted free agency. Foster is one of the most important faces and voices in the locker room, and it would be a shame to see him go, but both he and Finney are aware of this business possibility.
As for other needs, Linsey highlights the edge defender position, with Bud Dupree a pending free agent, as well as a tight end who can stretch the field, and the quarterback position. It’s worth noting that they considered Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges among the very worst quarterbacks in the NFL in 2019. He writes:
As for other needs, the future of the quarterback position became a clear priority with the dismal play of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in relief of Ben Roethlisberger. No team had fewer receiving yards from the tight end position than the Steelers, so an upgrade could certainly be in order there to give Roethlisberger another downfield threat. Lastly, edge becomes a priority if Bud Dupree leaves in free agency, something that the Steelers shouldn’t be afraid to allow happen if the price gets too high.
PFF has already made the argument that the Steelers should not ‘overpay’ for Dupree, and they would consider the franchise tag overpaying. Their suggestion for the team in free agency would be to instead use the money they would have given to Dupree to acquire tight end Hunter Henry, who would fit the profile if only he had a better track record of health.