The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Which key pending free agent do you hope the Steelers do not re-sign?
There are many ways in which organizations can go awry, including in ways that are difficult if not possible to foresee. Failing to retain a key talent is one of them. An early-round draft bust is another. And so is keeping around a player who could realistically be upgraded, and doing so at a relatively hefty price tag.
The Steelers have a number of key players from their 2021 roster who are due to be unrestricted free agents—for the purposes of this exercise, I am going to identify which players I believe would qualify as ‘key’, limited to those I think it’s realistic they may try to re-sign. What I want you to do is tell me which one you most fear they might re-sign, or which you hope they don’t re-sign.
The following players are the ones I would call key contributors whom the team may attempt to re-sign: CB Ahkello Witherspoon; CB Joe Haden; S Terrell Edmunds; WR JuJu Smith-Schuster; T Chukwuma Okorafor; G Trai Turner. The rest are either part-time starters, unlikely to be targeted to be re-signed, or reserves, with arguably the most notable of those being WR James Washington and CB Arthur Maulet.
Consideration of compensation is a big part of this conversation, and I’m not going to define the predicted parameters for what these players might receive. Hopefully using a bit of educated guessing, I want you to discuss the prices at which you would be uncomfortable re-signing so-and-so player. For example, if you would be open to Terrell Edmunds returning at $3 million APY but fear he’s looking at $6-7 million APY, I believe that should be part of the discussion.