The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: With the draft over, which of the Steelers’ remaining free agents are they most likely to re-sign?
Roster building is a never-ending game in the NFL. There are periods of lulls, of course, but teams can make moves, or at least plan for them, virtually any day of the calendar. The Steelers, for example, even signed an outside free agent during the 2023 NFL Draft. They also re-signed their own free agent, wide receiver Miles Boykin, three days before the draft started.
Now, after adding two offensive linemen, two outside cornerbacks, a defensive tackle, a tight end, and a (presumptive) edge rusher), how does that shape their level of engagement with the remaining players they had under contract until the start of the new league year? Well, let’s start by looking at the list. Actually, let’s just break down the list.
QB Mason Rudolph: This would still make a lot of sense on paper, though wounded beat writers continue to bleed on Rudolph’s behalf over the great injustice the team acted upon him. If Rudolph has a pen at the ready, you’d think a deal could get done. It’s not like anybody else is interested, based upon the available evidence.
FB Derek Watt: With talk of Connor Heyward playing more fullback and the addition of Monte Pottebaum as a college free agent, it doesn’t feel like Watt is likely to be re-signed from where I’m sitting.
RB Benny Snell Jr.: The Steelers didn’t draft a running back nor sign any as college free agents. Right now, Anthony McFarland Jr. would be the number three. I think Snell has the best chance of re-signing, even if he would have to get a new number.
OL Jesse Davis: It wouldn’t shock me if they phoned him up again. He’s primarily a tackle and they could still use more bodies there.
ILB Marcus Allen: They’re working on adding new special teamers and they’re otherwise deep enough at inside linebacker. I think Allen’s run is finally done in Pittsburgh.
S Karl Joseph: He’s been around for a couple years now, spending 2022 on the Reserve/Injured List. They have safeties. I think if they were interested in him at all he would have been brought back before the draft.
DL Tyson Alualu: After signing two interior-capable linemen just before the draft and then using a second-round pick on one, I think we can safely say that Alualu is now free to retire.
DL Chris Wormley: Ditto for Wormley, at least in terms of the odds of his returning to Pittsburgh. He’s still recovering from a torn ACL, too.
The other names you might see out there are of players who were not unrestricted free agents but rather who were released, and thus were street free agents. The only one of that group that may have even the slightest chance of being re-signed is Myles Jack, and I wouldn’t bet a cent on that one.