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: Who plays free safety if Minkah Fitzpatrick misses time?
This is a pretty significant question. While Fitzpatrick has hardly missed a snap in his career, there will inevitably come a time where he does, unless he’s the next Joe Thomas in terms of good fortunes in staying healthy.
He is arguably the only true free safety on the roster, and certainly the only one that could be inside the bubble to make the team. Jordan Dangerfield, Marcus Allen, and Antoine Brooks all profile as strong safeties, while Terrell Edmunds is the starting strong safety.
While Edmunds has the athleticism to potentially play free safety, as Sean Davis also made the move from strong to free, up to this point in his career, he hasn’t displayed the sort of range and instincts that you would want from the position. regardless, he has to be considered an option.
Then you have two options at cornerback in Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton, both players that the team has talked about as having position flexibility. Could one of them start a game at free safety if Fitzpatrick were to be out? Is this the most likely option?
Or would it be more likely for Edmunds to play free safety and have somebody else—whether a safety like Dangerfield or Allen or a cornerback like Sutton—line up in the strong safety role? For most of last season, Kameron Kelly was the number two free safety, but who would have been that after he was released?