It’s that time of year again. Free agency is creeping up in just a couple of weeks, so before we get there, we’ll get going over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, position by position, making an assessment of what kind of shape they’re in, trying to figure out how they might, or should, attack the roster on that basis.
The Steelers are likely to be subject to more change than they are used to this year, with 19 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, including numerous starters. Two other important players have retired, so there is more shuffling of the deck than normal in Pittsburgh.
Total Positional Figure: 4
Ben Roethlisberger: Returning from major elbow injury, Ben Roethlisberger had a statistically curious season. While his touchdown-to-interception ratio was very good at 33-to-10 (he had only thrown 34 touchdowns as a career high before), his deep ball accuracy was at perhaps an all-time low, and he was throwing shorter and shorter passes, which grew increasingly predictable and led to a high number of batted passes. Both sides have stated that they want to keep going at least one more year, but his cap hit has to be addressed.
Mason Rudolph: Playing meaningful time in only one game, Mason Rudolph threw for over 300 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a losing effort to the Cleveland Browns in a game that sent Cleveland to the postseason for the first time since 2002, while the Steelers were resting starters. The Steelers expressed confidence and optimism in his future as a potential starter, but he is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Joshua Dobbs: After trading Dobbs for a fifth-round pick in 2019, he was back in 2020 as the number three quarterback. He seemed to provide valuable insight with his intellect, according to the other quarterbacks and former offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. In the finale, he got a bit of playing time as a read-option quarterback. But he will be an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks.
Dwayne Haskins: A former first-round pick, Haskins is just two years into his career after being unceremoniously released. The Steelers got him on a minimum deal and will be kicking the tires on him to see if there is anything to work with. As of now, he is in line to be the number three this year.
Devlin Hodges: After drawing national attention as a rookie in 2019, starting six games due to Roethlisberger’s injury and Rudolph’s struggles, Hodges was sent to the practice squad in 2020 once the Steelers reacquired Dobbs. They did not sign him to a futures deal—instead, the Chargers did.
For the first time in the better part of two decades, all options are on the table at quarterback. A renegotiated deal with Roethlisberger is not even yet finalized, even if it is expected. They could certainly draft a quarterback in the first round if there is one that they like enough. They even have some ammunition to move up if they are confident in what they will be getting in compensatory picks next year. I think 2022 is a more likely time for them to address the position heavily, however.