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: How many opening-day starters on the offensive line are currently not on the roster?
The Steelers started three offensive linemen for the majority of the 2021 season, including on opening day, who were not members of the team at the start of the new league year. Two of their starters from the year before left in free agency, and another two retired or were waived injured, likely retiring as well.
But that new group didn’t exactly outperform expectations, and the Steelers are widely expected to place significant focus on addressing this position over the course of the next couple of months. The question is, how many players who are not currently on the team will be starting in September?
Perhaps a good way to start is to ask how many of their current linemen—including pending free agents—are likely future starters. I think Dan Moore Jr. will retain a spot, whether it’s on the left or right side. Trai Turner probably wouldn’t be re-signed if it’s not to start. The others reveal shakier responses with less certitude.
At this point in the game, I think it would be a surprise if at least two players are not brought in this offseason who have a very strong chance at starting, likely one a free agent and one a draft pick. It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that it ends up being three.
The fact that the Steelers have a new offensive line coach doesn’t hurt those odds, because he’ll be looking for guys who fit his own vision. And Mike Tomlin usually likes to give his new coaches some resources to play with, though that has become less guaranteed.