We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made by then. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had 10 starters or primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed only five of them, those being JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cameron Sutton, Zach Banner, Tyson Alualu, and Jordan Berry. They re-signed a number exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly Robert Spillane and J.C. Hassenauer, while signing Ray-Ray McCloud to a non-tender deal.
The deals of Ben Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward, Derek Watt, and Eric Ebron were restructured, while those of Steven Nelson and Vince Williams were terminated, the latter being re-signed. Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald retired.
Of note, the Steelers have added five players as unrestricted or street agents from outside of the organization, including three offensive linemen in Joe Haeg, Rashaad Coward, and former Steeler B.J. Finney. The group also includes linebacker Miles Killebrew and running back Kalen Ballage.
Total Positional Figure: 4
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Ben Roethlisberger: There is some debate as to whether or not Pittsburgh would keep Ben Roethlisberger this year. Regardless of what actually happened behind closed doors, the two sides agreed to restructure his contract to create more than $15 million in salary cap space for this year, including his a $5 million pay cut. His contract voids five days after the Super Bowl in what has a very high chance of being his final year.
Mason Rudolph: Rudolph is now entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he exited the 2020 season on something of a high note, playing well in the regular season finale against a very competitive Cleveland Browns team that needed to win that game to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Joshua Dobbs: Only recently re-signed, Dobbs was an unrestricted free agent for nearly a month. The Steelers first brought him back just before the start of the 2020 season when the Jaguars, to whom he was traded the year before for a fifth-round pick, let him go.
Dwayne Haskins: Haskins has been with the Steelers for several months now, signed to a Reserve/Futures contract at the end of the 2020 season. But this is a kick-the-tires move. They won’t hesitate to cut ties if it’s not working out. And they won’t keep him on the roster if he doesn’t earn his spot.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook:
In theory, the Steelers very much need another quarterback for the future. But if the 2021 season is to be about making one final Super Bowl run with Roethlisberger, then it would be counterproductive to ‘waste’ a draft pick on a player for whom the intention is not to play this year.
With that said, you can’t rule it out. Virtually anything would be on the table right now. It’s not impossible that they could be considering even trading up in the first round later this month in the hopes of landing the fourth quarterback off the board, with the top three expected to go in the first three selections.