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2021 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Sign Any Unfamiliar Outside Free Agents?

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: Will the Steelers sign any outside free agents who are not former members of the team?

We are now about half a day into the official start of free agency, during which time players are actually allowed to visit teams in-person. We have become accustomed to a very active ‘tampering period’ in which we more or less expect everything to happen in a matter of days, but the reality is that things take longer than that, especially for the less high-profile deals.

The Steelers have lost four free agents so far. They have re-signed two players who would have been free agents, and also signed one free agent who was on the street, thus not unrestricted, in B.J. Finney, who is a former player.

While there has been nothing in any official capacity, many do expect Pittsburgh to try to tight end tight Jesse James, who spent the first four years of his career with the team before he signed with the Detroit Lions in 2019.

But…is that it? Could that really be the entirety of the Steelers’ outside moves—bringing back Finney and James? Obviously, they’re not in a position to be making any significant signings, and they still have a number of low-level free agents they’ll probably want to bring back, including Chris Wormley and one of their edge rushers, but will they be able to add anybody else who hasn’t been a part of the team previously?

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