The Pittsburgh Steelers made moves to improve their team and fill holes in free agency, but in a loaded AFC, how much will it move the needle? In a new ‘AFC Hierarchy’ article by NFL.com’s Eric Edholm, apparently not much.
Edholm sees the Steelers as middle-of-the-pack in a section he titled “Massive middle-class gut.”
“The Steelers have patched a few holes after losing some depth on defense, including versatile cover man Cameron Sutton to the Lions,” wrote Edholm. “Patrick Peterson is the Sutton replacement, and Cole Holcomb could be a slight upgrade over Devin Bush. It’s been a pretty typically uneventful free agency period for the Steelers, but they always have something to say in the draft.”
While the Steelers did not make huge big-name moves in free agency, I would would hardly call it uneventful. They brought in a possible five new starters in Patrick Peterson, Cole Holcomb, Isaac Seumalo, Elandon Roberts, and Keanu Neal. That is a lot for the Steelers, even if they aren’t the biggest names.
In addition, the team is expecting a second year leap from quarterback Kenny Pickett. He will play behind an improved offensive line and a team that found its identity in the back half of the 2022 season. In the final nine games of the season Pittsburgh went 7-2 and played a really close game against the eventual AFC North champions Cincinnati Bengals.
Pittsburgh has a good chance to have a great year in 2023 if Pickett does make a jump and the team stays relatively healthy. All across the board, minus cornerback, the team got better General manager Omar Khan will likely address that come the NFL Draft in a couple of weeks which has a very deep cornerback class.
While I don’t think the Steelers are at the top of the class in the AFC— that would just be delusional — they are better than middle class. Not being put in the class of “The next wave” means that the writer simply doesn’t believe in Pickett. While he didn’t explicitly say it, the Steelers all around have a good team. The defense is an elite unit and isn’t that old, and the offense has a ton of young players with potential.
Obviously all this is just talk on paper. The games are played on the field, and we will have to wait until September for Pickett and the Steelers to try and prove they are a class above the middle pack of the AFC.