2021 Offseason Questions: How Many Will Show Up For Rookie Minicamp?

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin

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: How many players will show up for rookie minicamp?

One thing you virtually never say about the NFL is that it’s quiet. In a twist of irony, the NFLPA is making noise right now in order to provide much more quiet time during the offseason. The union is encouraging players not to show up to voluntary practices, including rookie minicamp and OTAs, in order to establish them as superfluous and unnecessary.

They took it a step further yesterday when they urged the rookies not to show up. These players have had NFL teams for literally days, and the NFLPA is already asking that they demonstrate their allegiance to the union. Which, for the majority of them, could be detrimental, or at least unhelpful, to their careers.

When it comes to the Steelers, the players already issued a statement through the union a month or two ago stating that they do not intend to report to OTAs. This was obviously before the rookie class was here, and it also doesn’t take into account the fact that there won’t be total compliance.

The Steelers have four draft picks taken in the fifth round or later and more than a dozen college free agents, none of whom should feel as though they have an inside track on a roster spot right now. It would be to their advantage from a competitive standpoint to get on the field as soon as possible. It remains to be seen what their plans are, and that applies to all 32 teams, really.

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