In what is becoming a common refrain every offseason at this point, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of holes to fill over the next few months, and not a lot of filler. Although they are in a better position relative to the salary cap than they typically are, they won’t have a lot of draft capital, though at least as I write this, they at least still have their first round pick, 20th overall.
With Ben Roethlisberger retiring and no obvious heir apparent, quarterback is obviously the biggest hole on the roster, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be adequately filled, at least not with somebody who will be a genuine ‘franchise’ piece for nigh a generation.
As should be no surprise, Pro Football Focus lists the quarterback position as among the Steelers’ biggest needs this offseason. But they also cite two other positions, one of which I certainly agree with, the other I’m less certain of: Cornerback and offensive tackle. Anthony Treash writes:
Ben Roethlisberger is officially retired after producing the lowest PFF grade of any quarterback in 2021. The Steelers are now left with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins as their possible options at quarterback for 2022, both of whom have produced more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws for their careers, along with poor passing grades in the 50s. Pittsburgh does own the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and it is open to the idea of using it on one of the passing prospects.
His focus entirely on the quarterback position is fair, but not very engaging for our purposes, since the topic has been discussed ad nauseum. But when it comes to the cornerback position, that is a clear area of concern for the Steelers, even if you accept that their talent there was adequate in 2021.
That’s because Joe Haden, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Arthur Maulet are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next month. Chances are they’re not going to bring all of them back. In terms of Haden and Witherspoon, it will probably be one or the other—and I don’t know which one it will be. Maulet I would like to see back on the cheap as a solid versatile slot defender.
As far as offensive tackle goes, I personally view the interior offensive line as the bigger problem, and right guard Trai Turner is a free agent, anyway. Kevin Dotson spent half of the year on the Reserve/Injured List, and Kendrick Green was one of the worst centers in the league. J.C. Hassenauer and John Leglue are not the solutions.
I could live with Dan Moore Jr. and a re-signed Chukwuma Okorafor if the Steelers addressed the interior offensive line. By the end of the season, they were arguably their two best linemen. That’s not to say that they should pass up on a franchise left tackle if one is available in the first round. You can make adjustments for that.