While Pittsburgh Steelers fans might not believe in the team anymore, the players still seem to, as does the rest of the personnel involved. Art Rooney II, for example, said earlier this offseason that if he could take the same roster of 2020 into next season, he would.
They can’t, of course, because they have more than two dozen players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, including a number of starters, and they will likely only be able to retain one or two of the more prominent names.
This is a team that believed they had what it takes last year, however, and not just when they are in the process of starting the season 11-0. Things obviously fell apart after that, but they believe that this was a team that had the talent to go the distance.
“Of course ‘what if’ goes through your mind. I definitely thought we had a group that could do it, but only one team gets to say that they got the job done”, Cameron Heyward told Missi Matthews for the team’s website in an exclusive interview posted Wednesday, for example. “Every other team has to continue to solve the problems to get the job done”.
Obviously, the offense had a lot of problems that only became magnified as the season wore on, but the Steelers had one of the top defenses in the league, leading the NFL in sacks and interceptions, finishing second in takeaways, and third in points allowed.
They did a lot of that without Devin Bush, and had to finish the season without Bud Dupree as well. They had other minor hiccups along the way that shook things up, but really, it’s obviously the offensive side of the ball that is more in need of fixing, and one can only imagine that they’re emphasizing addressing that.
“I was appreciative of the group that we had, but change is the only constant in our game. Going forward, there’s other pieces to the puzzle”, Heyward said about how the team will be reshaped this offseason. “Who’s gonna be here? Who’s not gonna be here? How do we balance that? How do we get better with the guys that are here? It’s something that’s gonna take place all offseason to get us ready for next season”.
James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alejandro Villanueva, and Bud Dupree are all most likely going to be finding homes elsewhere next month. Matt Feiler and Mike Hilton could also be gone, among others, like Cameron Sutton, Avery Williamson, Tyson Alualu, and Chris Wormley.
They have to find a way to keep at least a few of these role players around, and really key in on this draft. That will still leave the open-ended question at quarterback, but at least you can have the rest of the roster in place.