We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made by then. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Steelers did not have as many starters as last year hit free agency, but as of yet, they have only re-signed one of note, Chukwuma Okorafor. JuJu Smith-Schuster has already signed elsewhere, but others such as Trai Turner, Joe Haden, and Terrell Edmunds remain unsigned.
They were substantially active in free agency, however, re-signing Ahkello Witherspoon, Arthur Maulet, Miles Killebrew, Montravius Adams, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen, and J.C. Hassenauer. They also signed linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole in outside free agency, as well as quarterback Mitch Trubisky, cornerback Levi Wallace, wide receiver/returner Gunner Olszewski, linebacker Myles Jack, and outside linebacker Genard Avery.
The team did not have to make drastic moves in order to get into cap compliance, but they did release two high-salaried players in linebacker Joe Schobert and tackle Zach Banner. As of now, they have not restructured any contracts, though restructuring T.J. Watt later this offseason is likely.
Position: Defensive End
Total Positional Figure: 6
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Cameron Heyward: One of the true cornerstone players of the organization over the past decade, Heyward is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career at the age of 32. The defense would be in such a worse place without him, both on and off the field.
Stephon Tuitt: After missing the entirety of the 2021 season due to a combination of factors that will probably never be fully detailed, Tuitt’s status for this upcoming season remains uncertain, though teammates, coaches, and others have expressed optimism and encouragement based on talks with him about his plans. If he has given the team any definitive answer, they have not divulged it.
Chris Wormley: A 2020 trade acquisition, Wormley proved necessary last season with Tuitt and then Tyson Alualu absent. He started every game he played in and had a career year with 51 tackles and seven sacks—a stat line that doesn’t really accurately portray the strengths and weaknesses of his game.
Isaiahh Loudermilk: A fifth-round rookie last year, Loudermilk faced a lot of skepticism when he was drafted, but his improvement in play over the course of the season has at least some encouraged about how he can develop.
Henry Mondeaux: Mondeaux has been a bit player for the past two seasons, but especially if Tuitt comes back, it’s difficult to foresee him making the 53-man roster again, particularly with Alualu’s return and the addition of Montravius Adams mid-season.
Daniel Archibong: Added to the practice squad at the start of the 2021 season, Archibong was called up due to injury for two games, playing 13 snaps. He was retained after the season on a Reserve/Future deal.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook:
As of now, nothing has changed for the Steelers this offseason at the defensive end position. That includes the status of Tuitt, though a number of members of the organization have expressed confidence that he will indeed return this year.
It cannot be unmentioned that Tyson Alualu, and Carlos and Khalil Davis, can also be considered as part of this discussion due to position versatility, though they will be discussed in tomorrow’s article for defensive tackles.
As for the draft, with Heyward turning 33 and Tuitt’s future still not entirely certain, the position is back in the discussion for any part of the draft. With the talent coming out in this year’s class, nobody would begrudge the Steelers if they took a star defensive end in the first round even with starters in place, as they did when they drafted Heyward over a decade ago.