With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.
This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense, and both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: At least one rookie undrafted free agent will make the 53-man roster.
Explanation: The Steelers have had plenty of success stories among undrafted free agents going on to have great careers for them, and as often as not, we tend to see at least one of them make the roster every year.
They just found Jaylen Warren last year, so clearly whatever their process is still works. And there are a few notable undrafted free agents this year who are in good positions to make a move. Enough that the odds favor at least one of them making it.
Three rookie college free agents currently play spots that are otherwise unoccupied. Tanner Morgan is the third quarterback right now. Monte Pottebaum is the only fullback on the roster. Jordan Byrd is a return specialist in a year in which they lost their return specialist.
And they will add more rookie college free agents to the mix soon enough. They actually have three open roster spots as of this writing coming out of the draft. They are likely to sign at least one or two rookies as minicamp tryouts, and they will add more as the season goes along and injuries factor in.
While the Steelers’ success with undrafted players is documented, it’s sometimes forgotten that those players don’t always make it right away. Think of even Christian Kuntz, their long snapper, who sat on the practice squad. Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, J.C. Hassenauer are some others who didn’t directly transition from signing to 53.
As for this particular group, Morgan is a placeholder. He’s not very good. They would be more likely to keep him on the practice squad even if it meant rostering only two quarterbacks. Pottebaum isn’t knocking Connor Heyward off the roster, and he might have to in order to make the team. As for Byrd, well, let’s just say they’ll find other returners. A player in his position is going to have to house a kick or two during the preseason to even have a prayer of making the team. They didn’t even keep Diontae Spencer four years ago.