The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up OTAs and mandatory minicamp this past week, ushering a “null” period if there ever was one on the NFL schedule for the next several weeks until the team reports to Latrobe on July 26 for training camp.
While it would be custom for Pittsburgh to walk into the dead of the offseason with a full 90-man roster, they have had some time now with the final spot on the roster unaccounted for after the team released CB Isaiah Johnson a few days ago. Several members of the Depot team thought that the team would just re-sign DL Trevon Mason after he was released a couple weeks ago, but he remains unsigned after the team broke camp for the summer.
This begs the question: why are the Steelers holding an extra roster spot after concluding mandatory minicamp? One possibility brought up on Friday’s edition of The Terrible Podcast with Dave Bryan and Alex Kozora is that the team could be looking for a more notable name out on the street to bring in over an unproven minicamp tryout like Mason. Given the extra cap scape Pittsburgh picked up after Stephon Tuitt retired, they certainly are in position to add an outside veteran to the team should they want to.
What positions/names could Pittsburgh look to target if this is actually their plan? Backup EDGE and RB were two positions debated on the last couple episodes of the podcast by Dave and Alex that make sense given the depth of proven production behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith at OLB and Najee Harris at RB.
As far as EDGE goes, names like Takk McKinley, Ryan Kerrigan, Alex Okafor, and Ifeadi Odenigbo make sense for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh had some interest in McKinley the same year they ended up drafting Watt in the first round in 2017, having that pedigree the Steelers are attracted to. Okafor and Odenigbo have been more role players during their time in the NFL, but both are capable at contributing on special teams and provide suitable depth as a rotational pass rusher. The Steelers reportedly had interest in signing Kerrigan last offseason, and after an unproductive year in Philadelphia, the former Pro Bowler could bring experience and veteran leadership to Pittsburgh.
At RB, I have listed the name Justin Jackson before in a free agent preview, formerly of the Los Angeles Chargers who would make for a great compliment to Harris in the backfield. Devontae Booker is another name that has been adequate at filling in for the likes of Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley the last season as a #2 runner. If Pittsburgh were to opt for an older veteran like they did with DeAngelo Williams, David Johnson would be a great name, as mentioned previously by Lucas Campbell, that has the size, pass catching ability, and character Pittsburgh looks for at the position while serving as a mentor to Harris.
As far as other positions go, offensive line is always an option given the youth and overall lack of depth at the position. Tyrell Crosby, Sam Tevi, and Eric Fisher are names available at tackle that can bolster depth, with Nick Martin, Quinton Spain, and John Miller all interior guys that could be good backups at a minimum for Pittsburgh.
Should Pittsburgh not be sold on the DL or LB depth, names like Sheldon Richardson or Nick Williams make sense as detailed by Kozora up front, and names like Anthony Barr, Dont’a Hightower, and Alexander Johnson could be higher-name signings at LB should the team not feel confident in Devin Bush ahead of training camp. Other cheaper names at the position include Ben Neimann, L.J. Fort, Jamie Collins, and Reggie Ragland that could be had at a far cheaper price point.
There are many options still available out in free agency if Pittsburgh wants to make a move to upgrade the roster. Hopefully, we’ll know their intentions in the next couple of days, but given the length of time that the team has sat on a vacant roster spot, one has to wonder if GM Omar Khan has a trick up his sleeve.
What are your thoughts on Pittsburgh’s vacant roster spot? Do you think they have a bigger splash in mind, or that they will just bring in another body for camp? Who do you think they should bring in and what is your reasoning? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!