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: 6
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Alejandro Villanueva: Entering his sixth season now, Villanueva is on the final year of his current contract in his age-32 season. He is coming off arguably his worst season since 2016, though that isn’t saying much, because he is still a quality starter.
Matt Feiler: Feiler stepped in full-time as a starter for the first time in 2019 and more than held his own. The Steelers are so confident in him that he may be entrusted to move inside to start at guard.
Zach Banner: A fourth-year player entering his third year with the Steelers, Banner will be competing for the chance to start at right tackle this year. He served as the tackle-eligible in 2019, playing over 200 snaps.
Chukwuma Okorafor: Now in his third season, Okorafor has to show significant growth. He does have two starts under his belt, but if he wanted to land the starting job, he has to offer more than he has up to this point, particularly with respect to consistency.
Derwin Gray: A 2019 seventh-round pick, Gray, who played up and down the line during the offseason, spent the season on the practice squad. He could make the 53-man roster as a utilityman this year.
Christian DiLauro: Signed to the practice squad during the regular season, DiLauro, like Gray, is inside-outside-capable, but he figures to be the low man on the totem pole.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook:
This is one of the few positions that have not been altered at all since the start of the offseason, yet it can be among those that see the biggest changes, with the possibility of Feiler moving inside. That depends as much on the growth of Okorafor and Banner as it does anything else as to whether or not that is a possibility. With all of Villanueva, Feiler, and Banner to be unrestricted free agents in 2021, however, tackle has to at least be on the draft board.