In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first offseason without long-time general manager Kevin Colbert, the new regime of Omar Khan and Andy Weidl are making their mark. The team signed a defensive free agent over 30 years old in cornerback Patrick Peterson, and a veteran guard to a three-year deal in Isaac Seumalo, both of which were unorthodox during the Colbert era. The team also lost several key free agents including cornerback Cameron Sutton and linebacker Robert Spillane.
On a Sunday article grading each team’s offseason, Garrett Podell of CBS Sports gave the Steelers a B+ grade, focusing on their addition of Peterson and revamping of the offensive line.
“While losing Cameron Sutton isn’t ideal,” Podell said. “Replacing him with one of the NFL’s active co-leaders in interceptions, Patrick Peterson, is a solid pickup for two years and $14 million.”
Going into the offseason, all the signs pointed to Sutton returning to Pittsburgh, and losing him is indeed not ideal. Sutton was arguably coming off his best season, as he was the team’s most reliable corner and played in the slot and outside. However, Peterson is certainly not a bad replacement. Though he is on the back end of his career, Peterson is an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, and ranked in the top ten and above Sutton according to PFF.
“Linebacker Cole Holcomb,” Podell continued. “Who comes over to replace former first round pick Devin Bush on a three-year deal, is a solid depth add.”
Perhaps the biggest story of the team’s offseason, the Steelers completely revamped the inside linebacker position. Indeed, the linebacker room went from Devin Bush, Myles Jack, and Robert Spillane to Elandon Roberts, Cole Holcomb, and Mark Robinson. The team is more than likely to add a linebacker to this group from the draft, but their approach signals a greater commitment to better run defense from the position.
“The offensive line has been a weakness for the Pittsburgh Steelers for some time,” Podell continued. “But the additions of guard Nate Herbig on two-year, $8 million deal, and guard Isaac Seumalo on a three-year, $24 million contract from the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles are big wins for quarterback Kenny Pickett and running back Najee Harris.”
Both Herbig and Semualo were with the Philadelphia Eagles during Weidl’s tenure, as the two moves have his name written all over them. The Steelers’ depth at guard certainly looks better, as Seumalo is likely to start alongside Daniels, leaving Dotson and Herbig as the interior backups. Though the team’s offensive line outperformed expectations in 2022, these moves provide better insurance in the likely scenario of the starting five not being healthy the full season, and an overall improvement in quality of play in replacing Dotson with Seumalo. The moves also check off the guard position from their list of draft targets, as the team is more likely to select a tackle in the early rounds from a solid OT class.
All in all, a B+ grade is hard to argue with for the Steelers’ offseason so far. Though the team did not make any ground-breaking moves, the linebacker and guard positions are arguably much better off. The team also resigned safety Damontae Kazee, who had two interceptions in a limited number of games. Losing Sutton and Spillane is certainly not ideal, but the team not has a shorter list of positions to target in the draft, and a better unit to protect potential franchise quarterback Kenny Pickett.