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.
Total Positional Figure: 2
Offseason Additions: 1
Offseason Deletions: 2 (+ Dwayne Haskins passed away)
Mason Rudolph: As it stands, Mason Rudolph is the only quarterback returning from the 2021 roster. Ben Roethlisberger has retired, and Joshua Dobbs signed with the Cleveland Browns. As you know, Dwayne Haskins was struck and killed attempting to cross a highway in Florida after working out with teammates. Ostensibly, Rudolph will compete with free agent Mitch Trubisky for the starting job, though he will not be favored.
Mitch Trubisky: The Steelers signed Trubisky to a two-year, $14.25 million contract that could escalate up to $27 million through incentives, much of it playing-time-based. A former second overall pick, he was a backup last year, but is the favorite to start for the Steelers in 2022.
Ben Roethlisberger: After 19 seasons, Roethlisberger retired. It was reported that he understood all along the 2021 season would be his last. He finished with a winning season and a postseason appearance, along with another seven game-winning drives, leading the NFL, and the most of his career.
Joshua Dobbs: Dobbs was never going to make the 53-man roster last season, but a preseason injury allowed the Steelers to keep him on the Reserve/Injured List. Pittsburgh didn’t seem to show any interest in re-signing him this offseason, and he just signed with the Browns shortly before Dwayne Haskins was struck and killed.
Dwayne Haskins: I hope nobody is going to take umbrage with the fact that Haskins is listed under deletions here and understands what the intention is. Despite the tragic circumstances, the result is that he is no longer on the roster (including the roster on the team’s website). The hole he leaves in the lives of many is even bigger than the one he leaves on the field.
Notes And Draft Outlook:
Never before has it been more likely that a Mike Tomlin team was going to draft a quarterback in the first round than this year, though that comes with the territory when you have a franchise quarterback for your first 15 years, and he retires.
The organization has been telegraphing its intentions all along. Tomlin even said that they are targeting the position in the draft, after they signed Trubisky. With Haskins’ sudden passing, the need to add to the quarterback position is only greater.
The only question is how much the Steelers like this draft class, or at least one particular quarterback. Do they like any enough to trade up to get him? Will they just take the best quarterback available at 20? Will they draft a quarterback in the first round at all, or try their luck on Day 2?