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 would this offseason have gone differently, to date, had the Steelers never made the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick?
This is a pretty broad question that obviously isn’t possible to give a ‘correct’ answer to. So many variables would have changed had they not made that trade. For one thing, they probably have a worse record, probably bad enough to get into the top 10, and they would still have that first-round pick.
Because, remember, it wasn’t just about getting Fitzpatrick. It was also about replacing an injured starter with Sean Davis going down. Kameron Kelly would have been their starter along with Terrell Edmunds for the rest of the season, at least until he got arrested (assuming he would still get himself arrested).
Without Fitzpatrick, do they re-sign Davis this offseason? Either way, they would still be lacking depth at the position. And if they did re-sign Davis, they would have less cap space than they do otherwise. I would imagine it would have cost them at least what Washington paid him.
So they go into the offseason without Fitzpatrick, but with a top-10 pick most likely. What happens after that? How does that reshape their priorities, both in free agency and the draft? Frankly, how does that affect the play of someone like Bud Dupree in 2019, and the decision over whether or not to give him the franchise tag? Improvement in coverage gave him more time to get to the quarterback and boost his sack numbers.