With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: The Steelers will add another outside free agent offensive lineman of relative significance before we get to the draft.
Explanation: It was reported yesterday that the Steelers have agreed to terms on a modest three-year contract for former Minnesota Vikings interior offensive lineman Mason Cole, who could start at either guard or center. They also re-signed Chukwuma Okorafor. But they are likely not retaining Trai Turner at this point, and there is at least one interior starting role up for grabs, if not two.
The Steelers have cap space. They can create more. This is a good free agent class for interior offensive linemen, and that is being reflected in the value of the contracts they are agreeing to, as well—at least, the ones that would realistically be in Pittsburgh’s price range.
Mason Cole is not going to transform Pittsburgh’s offensive line, but he will be better than what they had a year ago at his spot. That’s not enough, of course. Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green are both unproven players at this point in their respective careers. For that matter, so is Dan Moore Jr., but, well, the tackle position is more expensive.
We could realistically see them add another interior starting candidate in the $5-7 million per range. They might even sign a bigger deal for someone they really like, perhaps James Daniels from the Bears, who would have familiarity with Mitchell Trubisky. Just because they didn’t sign a lineman to a bigger contract first doesn’t mean they won’t.
If we’re being realistic about what the 2022 offense is going to look like, then we should understand that the offensive line may very well already be in place, with both Dotson and Green returning to the starting lineup. J.C. Hassenauer is another option, who should be back, and they will add one or two offensive linemen in the draft who will compete.
There are simply too many holes on this team to commit two significant free agent contracts to the offensive line. They likely will have to accommodate two more starting contracts in the secondary, pending Ahkello Witherspoon’s potential re-signing and whether or not Terrell Edmunds returns or they sign another safety.