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 likely is it that the Steelers will carry seven defensive linemen?
In terms of roster form, I don’t think there is a bigger question this year than whether or not the Steelers decide (or manage) to carry seven defensive linemen. They have a concentration of talent here, and there is also reason to believe that multiple prominent players within that group won’t be returning in 2023 for one reason or another, which would increase the incentive to retain depth.
Even with Stephon Tuitt retiring, the Steelers added Larry Ogunjobi, but he is one of those players only under contract for 2022. Tyson Alualu is another, and he’s also at that age where he could decide to retire any year. Neither of them have great odds of being back 2023, though it’s obviously a possibility.
Cameron Heyward isn’t going anywhere, and that’s your top three, but behind them, you have Chris Wormley and Montravius Adams as your most experienced reserves, and you have rookie third-round pick DeMarvin Leal, who will get no worse than a redshirt year, possibly even contributing.
But they don’t want to give up on second-year Isaiahh Loudermilk, either, nor do they want to write off Carlos Davis, who was injured most of last season. We’re already up to eight linemen now who have either been on the roster before, are established NFL players, or are pedigreed rookies.
The talent is there in the room to justify bulking up the numbers, but can they make the roster math work? Which position groups could be candidates for a light load? They have about 1,000 inside linebackers, and Connor Heyward and Derek Watt together complicate the math, as well.