In recent years, NFL franchises, most notably the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, have gone “all-in,” trading significant draft capital for established NFL veterans to give themselves a chance to be immediate Super Bowl contenders. While it worked for the Rams last season, it’s generally a risky gamble just given the nature of the NFL and how quickly an injury or an opposing team getting hot in the postseason can end your title bid and hurt a team’s future. Speaking to the media today, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II said he doesn’t foresee the Steelers changing the way they currently do business.
“I think that the way we’ve done it, we give ourselves a chance to be competitive every year, and that means you have a chance to get into the tournament and have a chance to win it. So, I’m not saying that we wouldn’t work hard, if we take some chances if we thought we had something that we really could build on, but I don’t see anything changing dramatically in that regard,” Rooney said via 93.7 The Fan earlier today.
After winning the Super Bowl last year, the Rams regressed to a 5-12 mark this year, largely due to multiple concussions suffered by quarterback Matthew Stafford and an aging roster. While I’m sure that organization would probably make the same moves to ensure a Super Bowl win, it’s not a good strategy for sustained success. Having draft picks and a multitude of players on rookie contracts (as the Steelers do right now at key positions, including quarterback with Kenny Pickett) allows teams to better plug holes through free agency as they aren’t pressed up against the cap, while the added depth also provides insurance if someone is struggling or underperforming.
There’s no right or wrong way to construct an NFL roster. What works for one team might not work for another, and in the Steelers’ case, it’s just never been their philosophy to make splashy trades or sign lucrative free-agent deals. While you can argue whether or not that’s the right way to go about it, it’s worked more often than it hasn’t for teams across the NFL, including Pittsburgh. It’s just too risky to give up so much future value just for a better chance of winning it all in one or two seasons.
The Steelers will likely operate somewhat differently this offseason than in the past, thanks to Omar Khan taking over as general manager from the retired Kevin Colbert and Andy Weidl joining him as the team’s assistant general manager. While there will be some changes, I wouldn’t expect them to really change the general way the organization operates when it comes to roster building. The Steelers will not be going all-in for 2023.