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.
Total Positional Figure: 5
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Ben Roethlisberger: Coming off a major injury and surgery, we still won’t know for a while what can be expected from Roethlisberger in 2020. All news about his recovery has been positive, but his level of play remains a mystery until we can actually see it, something the team has admitted.
Mason Rudolph: Now heading into his third season after starting eight games last year, Mason Rudolph still has a lot to prove, but may not have the opportunity to do so. In fact, the hope is that he won’t, because it would mean Roethlisberger is playing. The team has said that they are comfortable with him as the number two.
Devlin Hodges: Hodges’ status, however, as the number three is in question. The 2019 undrafted free agent went from hero to goat in Pittsburgh, winning three games and then losing three, sending them out of playoff contention.
Paxton Lynch: A former first-round pick, Lynch was originally signed to the practice squad after Roethlisberger’s injury, but spent most of the year on the 53. He served two games as the backup due to injury but never took a snap. He will compete for the number three spot.
J.T. Barrett: Signed to the practice squad late in the year, Barrett has his work cut out for him making headway within this group, especially without the benefit of, you know, an offseason.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook: Opinions differ about what the Steelers will or should do. I will be using my educated guesses based on my experience observing the team over the years. I take them at their word that they are comfortable with Rudolph as their backup. Combined with the fact that they have no first-round pick and limited draft resources, it would be nothing short of stunning and would take a major prospect dropping in order to see the Steelers spend any draft pick on a quarterback, let alone a high pick.