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2021 Offseason Questions: Who Will Start At Left Tackle?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

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 will start at left tackle in 2021?

While we are getting closer to finalizing who will be under center for the Steelers this upcoming season, there are still a number of other areas seeking clarification, and arguably the biggest is at left tackle. At this point, I don’t think there is anybody who anticipates the Steelers retaining Alejandro Villanueva, but until he signs somewhere else, it’s not impossible.

Failing their Pro Bowl starter as an option, there are three alternatives: move somebody on the roster to the left side; sign somebody in free agency; or take one in the draft. Chances are the Steelers will explore more than one option, as the front office doesn’t like to put themselves in a box when they can avoid it.

Among those on the current roster, Chukwuma Okorafor may be the most likely to be moved to the left side base on his footwork. Zach Banner is recovering from a knee injury and is scheduled to be a free agent, though at this point, it’s anticipated he’ll be retained, but he profiles more as a right tackle. Matt Feiler is another pending free agent who could theoretically be re-signed. While primarily a right tackle, it’s possible they could look at him on the left side.

Then, of course, there’s the draft, and we have general manager Kevin Colbert going on record talking about how deep the tackle class is this year, so if you’re interested in reading some tea leaves, there’s a fresh pot for you. Of course, they also need a center, and you can damn sure bet that nobody on the current roster will be starting there.

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