We’re at the juncture of the NFL offseason in which the majority of all the big-name free agents have already signed with their new teams and teams are assembling their draft boards in their respective war rooms. Obviously, the makeup of each team can change drastically between now and final roster trim-downs come late August, but Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton took the time to hand out his offseason grades prior to the draft.
His grading system is based off how he thought each team addressed roster holes while also allocating their salary cap space efficiently, and his grade for Pittsburgh was not very kind, stamping them with a C- for the efforts. The team’s defensive acquisitions he lauded, noting how strong of fits cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon are, from a schematic standpoint. He also applauded the pickup of tackling machine inside linebacker Myles Jack, from the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, on the offensive side of the ball is where Wharton seemed to think the team leaves more to be desired, and commented as such below:
“The Steelers raced out in free agency to sign Mitch Trubisky, who threw eight passes in 2021. Had Pittsburgh exercised more patience, it could have landed Matt Ryan for a mid-round pick, Jimmy Garoppolo when the 49ers had no trade leverage or maybe Baker Mayfield if he’s released. The only upside to signing Trubisky is the possibility of adding a rookie signal-caller with their first-round pick still exists.”
The thought of Matt Ryan instead of Trubisky is an intriguing one, as on one hand we have a former MVP and top 10 placeholder for the most passing yards in league history. On the other hand, we have a former top 5 pick who has yet to live up to expectations. And all the Indianapolis Colts had to give up to acquire Ryan was a third-round pick. If the Steelers had waited, do you think it would’ve been a better fit to add Ryan and lose the draft pick, or try to unlock the potential of Trubisky while holding all their draft picks? Or perhaps maybe one of the other two mentioned?
It seems as though Wharton wasn’t very impressed with the offensive line acquisitions of the team too, as his remarks below seem to elicit a “Meh” reaction:
“Grabbing guard James Daniels was an excellent signing, and center Mason Cole is serviceable for 2022,” Wharton said. “More talent is needed along the line, but it’s a start toward competency. Pittsburgh will be a nuisance in 2022 because of the defense but is clearly lacking talent where it’s needed to reach the playoffs.”
As the team transitions to a new era at QB, it’s apparent they’re trying to turn back the clock to a different age of Steelers football, much like when ushering in Ben Roethlisberger as a rookie. With a bell cow at running back in Najee Harris, and after making several additions up front, it’s clear their intent is to run the football more this year. Daniels was their “big fish” signing of the offseason, and the offensive line was clearly a sore spot during last season, so improvements will need to be made if the team has any plans to even sniff the playoff field again come next season.
What do you think of Wharton’s assessment? Is he being too harsh, considering many of the team’s pick-ups were under-the-radar-type guys. Or do you think it’s a fair grade? Let me know below.