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: 6
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
Minkah Fitzpatrick: A shake-up in the secondary and lack of clarity in his role saw Fitzpatrick get off to a bit of a sluggish start last season, but he really settled in late in the year. He lost out on post-season accolades, but anybody who saw him play in the second half of the year understands that he was the same guy who made All-Pro the two years prior.
Terrell Edmunds: It took a while, but the Steelers finally got Edmunds under contract, signing him to just a one-year, $2.5 million contract. That should presumably keep him in Pittsburgh as the starting strong safety in 2022, but it leaves them with the flexibility to make moves and plan for his successor in this draft, if the right opportunity arises.
Tre Norwood: While the Steelers seem to like the second-year former seventh-round pick just fine, the problem is figuring out where Norwood fits. He is probably best-suited at free safety, but he’ll never start there as long as Fitzpatrick is around. He should be beneficial with his versatility in a sub-package role.
Miles Killebrew: Re-signed to a two-year deal after spending the 2021 season with the club, Killebrew is a special-teamer first and safety second. His claim to fame was two blocked punts last year, but he was a solid all-around contributor for Danny Smith’s units.
Karl Joseph: A former first-round draft pick, Joseph spent the 2021 season on the Steelers’ practice squad after getting cut by the Raiders. Pittsburgh showed interest in him in free agency last year. They re-signed him earlier this month to add depth, perhaps with a chance to graduate to the 53-man roster again.
Donovan Stiner: A college free agent last year, Stiner made the initial practice squad and then stayed there all year, being re-signed to a Reserve/Future deal. Realistically, that is probably his ceiling.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook:
This is that rare position group where, when all was said and done, it looks exactly the same now as where they finished off last year. That was no easy feat with half of the group being free agents, re-signing Edmunds, Joseph, and Killebrew. Oddly, Killebrew was the only one with a multi-year deal.
Edmunds’ contract leaves the Steelers with all options on the table, only knowing that they don’t have a screaming need for a starting strong safety in 2022—but possibly for 2023. They have certainly done their homework on the position relative to the draft, so a selection certainly wouldn’t be surprising, especially if a certain someone manages to fall in the first round.
With that said, they have also set themselves up in such a way where it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they went the entire draft without addressing safety. They have two players who can start in Fitzpatrick and Edmunds, and perhaps two players who they could feel comfortable spot-starting in Norwood and Joseph, the latter a former starter. Then you have your special-teamer in Killebrew.