The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: Which player will the Steelers attempt to sign to an extension before the start of the regular season?
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette implied yesterday that the Steelers may not be done extending players before the start of the regular season after getting Cameron Heyward under contract for another four years.
Considering that the team has a number of significant players heading into unrestricted free agency in 2021, that is most welcome news, though it’s somewhat hard to fathom how they will get it done, in light of the lack of clarity about the cap situation next year.
The two most high-profile names are JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner two young Pro Bowl-level skill position players. Alejandro Villanueva, a two-time Pro Bowler who has been their left tackle for the better part of the last five seasons, is also among them.
Then you have Matt Feiler, another starter on the line, and Zach Banner, who may or may not be starting. Mike Hilton is the starting slot cornerback, and Cameron Sutton figures to have a role in the defense this year as well. There’s also Bud Dupree, but they can’t extend him.
So who will it be? Somebody like Feiler or Hilton might seem the most probable. If they want to reveal that Banner is the starter at right tackle, he could be an option as well. Villanueva? Not out of the realm of possibility. Dare we consider the possibility of it being Smith-Schuster? Assuming there is anybody at all.