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: 6
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Fitzpatrick followed up a first-team All-Pro season with another first-team All-Pro season, so there is not much to complain about. He has already established himself as a young leader on the team who commands his teammates’ respect, and will be paid handsomely next offseason.
Terrell Edmunds: Now three years into his career, Edmunds has continued to make progress over the course of the journey, with the 2020 season being his best. While he could settle in as a long-term Ryan Clark-type starter, he doesn’t seem to be one who will develop into something who earns an eight-figure salary.
Sean Davis: A former starter, Davis lost his job after getting injured in 2019 and the Steelers trading for Fitzpatrick. He signed a one-year, $5 million deal with Washington in free agency to compete for a starting job, but didn’t make the roster, and the Steelers quickly re-signed him, using him on special teams but defensively reserving him for depth, though he did start for Edmunds in the finale due to injury.
Jordan Dangerfield: Now with four credited seasons, Dangerfield has been in the Steelers organization since 2014, and has established himself as a core special teamer, being named special teams captain last year. He should be retained for the minimum going forward.
Antoine Brooks: A sixth-round pick in 2020, Brooks spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad, but did get elevated a couple of times and eventually called up. He played sparingly, but his future remains very much in front of him.
John Battle: An LSU product, Battled was an undrafted free agent in 2019 who signed a futures deal with the Steelers in January of last year. He spent the entire year on the practice squad and was retained on another futures deal earlier this year.
The only real decisions are whether or not to pick up Terrell Edmunds’ fifth-year option, which would be fully guaranteed at over $6 million as soon as it’s exercised, and whether or not to try to retain Sean Davis as depth.
Even though they didn’t rely on Davis very often at all, they did have him start in the finale when Edmunds was out with an injury, though their only alternatives were Dangerfield and Brooks, so I’m not sure that’s saying much.
It’s certainly possible that they could be in the market to add a safety for depth in the draft, though on day three. If they fail to re-sign Davis, then they will need to try to add somebody who profiles as capable of backing up the free safety position.