We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had eight primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed only one of them, that being Bud Dupree on the franchise tag. Unrestricted free agents who signed elsewhere were Javon Hargrave, B.J. Finney, Sean Davis, Tyler Matakevich, Nick Vannett, and Artie Burns. They re-signed a number exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly Matt Feiler and Mike Hilton, as well as Zach Banner, Kameron Canaday, and Jordan Dangerfield on non-tender one-year deals. The deals of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Boswell, and Vance McDonald were all restructured.
Also of note were the releases of Mark Barron, Anthony Chickillo, Johnny Holton, and Roosevelt Nix, and the retirement of Ramon Foster, as well as three significant signings in free agency, adding a new fullback in Roosevelt Nix, a potential starting lineman in Stefen Wisniewski, and a new tight end in Eric Ebron.
Position: Outside Linebacker
Total Positional Figure: 4
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 1
T.J. Watt: Three years into his career, I feel comfortable saying that Watt is a pretty solid player. He even was a first-team All-Pro last year, so that’s got to count for something.
Bud Dupree: Set to be an unrestricted free agent, Dupree was slapped the franchise tag this offseason after a career year with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Two questions remain: can he continue to build off of his breakout year, and will he be retained beyond 2020? The answers to those questions may be related.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi: Entering his third year since being signed as an undrafted free agent, Adeniyi didn’t really get the chance to show the promise he offered during his rookie preseason, due to injury. He didn’t play much during the regular season, even when Chickillo was briefly on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Tuzar Skipper: A rookie minicamp invitee, Skipper led the league in preseason sacks and also forced two fumbles. He made the 53-man roster before being cut a day before the opener, claimed by the Giants, but he eventually wound his way back to Pittsburgh late in the year.
Players Added: N/A
Anthony Chickillo: After five years, it was time to call it a day with Anthony Chickillo, whose fate seemed sealed a year ago when he signed a backloaded two-year deal. The team’s salary cap situation made him an obvious casualty as a backup with a large cap hit.
Notes And Draft Outlook:
With just four players at the position and no experienced or pedigreed depth, don’t be shocked if the Steelers draft a player high on the edge. This is one position where you can never have enough good players. If the right player is there, he could even be taken at 49. Don’t forget, Dupree isn’t guaranteed to be here beyond 2020.