The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: How many starting jobs will truly be at stake by the time we get to training camp?
OTAs and minicamp are primarily about installing systems and working on fundamentals, things of that nature. It’s a lot less involved with and important to establishing cohesion within the starting lineup, something that gets much more attention once teams get into training camp.
In other words, just because somebody looked to be in a ‘fixed’ position during OTAs doesn’t mean that’s set in stone already, and that’s not just accounting for variability. Teams will set up on player to function as a first-team starter in OTAs knowing that that job will be in contention come July and August.
So…what about the Pittsburgh Steelers this year? By the time we get to Latrobe, how many starting jobs can conceivably be put up for grabs—on a reasonable basis? I’m not just talking about platitudes about how every job has to be earned every year. I’m talking about positions where we really may see somebody else start come September.
Along the offensive line, we have, at least, left guard, if not center. Realistically, it’s hard to see a tackle spot being contested with the current roster. Quarterback is a given. But what about defensive end? Could Isaiahh Loudermilk challenge Chris Wormley, for example? Can Damontae Kazee get the jump on Terrell Edmunds at safety? Who will be the number three receiver? And which two cornerbacks will emerge on top?