Fresh off of a rather busy, uncharacteristic free agency period that featured a flurry of early moves, the early returns for the Pittsburgh Steelers remain rather promising.
After losing longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to retirement, along with some other key holes on the roster opening up due to expired contracts, General Manager Kevin Colbert got to work quickly in his final offseason as the Steelers’ GM, signing the likes of Mitch Trubisky, Mason Cole, James Daniels, Myles Jack, and Levi Wallace off the street, while retaining the likes of Chukwuma Okorafor, Montravious Adams, Miles Killebrew, Arthur Maulet, Dwayne Haskins, Robert Spillane, and Marcus Allen as in-house guys, ensuring the Steelers are in a good spot heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.
Thanks to that flurry of moves with newfound cap space, the Steelers feel much better positioned to make a push for the playoffs in the first season post-Roethlisberger than they were before. In fact, Bleacher Report’s NFL trio of Maurice Moton, Brent Sobelski, and Gary Davenport seem to agree overall, giving the Steelers a “B” grade in free agency, giving the Steelers the second-highest grade in the AFC North behind the “A” grade the Cincinnati Bengals received.
Elsewhere, the Baltimore Ravens received a “B-” grade and the Cleveland Browns landed a “D+” grade. Yikes.
“Trubisky won’t generate a ton of enthusiasm, but he’s a capable starting quarterback and probably an upgrade over what was left of Roethlisberger in 2021,” Davenport writes. “Mason Cole and James Daniels will bring some badly needed help along the offensive line. Levi Wallace was a good low-cost add at cornerback.
“However, the Steelers also lost significant talent at wideout and in the secondary, and they don’t appear markedly better than last year’s iteration. Pittsburgh may earn another wild-card spot in 2022, but that’s likely as far as this team will go.”
While the flurry of moves were welcoming and plugged some holes, the Steelers did lose some key contributors from last season’s team, including JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Kansas City Chiefs and James Washington to the Dallas Cowboys. Guys like Terrell Edmunds, Joe Haden, and Taco Charlton remain on the street, leaving some holes at wide receiver and safety for the Steelers to try and plug late in free agency or in the draft.
Overall though, Colbert and Co. did a very good job plugging holes with smart, short-term contracts landing some young, talented players overall, which has certainly fit Colbert’s M.O. since taking over in the top role dating back to 2000.
The “B” grade from Bleacher Report certainly fits the Steelers’ free agency frenzy to date as Colbert identified talent that fit from a scheme and cost standpoint and pounced early and often in the market, grabbing guys that made far too much sense for the Steelers overall. How the signings translate into play on the field remains to be seen until the regular season, but it’s hard to see the moves and not be pleased overall by the black and gold in March.