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: Will the Steelers pursue one of the veteran inside linebackers who were just released—Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks and Jordan Hicks of the Arizona Cardinals?
Pittsburgh has a top 10 draft pick and a former Pro Bowler on the current roster penciled in as the starting inside linebackers. The problem is, those two players are Devin Bush and Joe Schobert, and neither of them played up to their prescribed billing last season.
While Bush isn’t going anywhere in 2022 (in case you need reminding, his 2022 salary is guaranteed, and that’s not going to be voided unless he places a bet on the draft or something), Schobert is a very obvious candidate for release due to his high salary relative to the play that he delivered last season.
In the meanwhile, two quality starting inside linebackers were just made available after the Seattle Seahawks released Bobby Wagner, a perennial All-Pro, and the Arizona Cardinals released Jordan Hicks, who hasn’t been decorated but has been highly productive.
It would be very surprising if the Steelers were not actively looking to address the inside linebacker position this offseason, in some way, shape, or form. Kevin Colbert spoke several times in recent weeks about how they can’t fully articulate what their plan is because they still have to see who is going to be made available via cuts.
These guys are now street free agents and wouldn’t affect the compensatory pick formula. They have ample salary cap room and plenty of options to maneuver even more room if necessary. In principle, there is no reason Pittsburgh can’t make a strong push to get Hicks, for example, on the field for them later this season.