The Pittsburgh Steelers’ prevailing message in the wake of the 2023 NFL Draft has been one of disclosure. Look at what we’ve done, they tell us, and you’ll see what we’re trying to do. Our moves reveal the identity we’re building.
“I’ll just say that our picks and our signings are all reflective of what our vision was for the team”, general manager Omar Khan told Mike Florio for Pro Football Talk, for example, adding that the shop isn’t closed. “If there’s an opportunity to keep adding to that, we will. I think our signings have really been reflective of who we want to be this year”.
So who do the Steelers want to be this year? Well, you always have to consider price tags, but additions like linebacker Elandon Roberts, nose tackle Breiden Fehoko, safety Keanu Neal, offensive linemen Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig, cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Joey Porter Jr., and Cory Trice Jr., and tight end Darnell Washington—among others—give you a sense of that to which they aspire. And it was birthed from failure.
“After the season ended last year, obviously disappointed we ended up missing the playoffs, there was a lot of good that came from the last month of football”, Khan said. “We got together along with Art Rooney and we came up with a plan and we had a vision for what we wanted our 2023 roster to look like”.
And it’s fair to say that we’re more than beginning to get an idea of that vision. In fact, assistant general manager Andy Weidl was more explicit and verbose in laying out just what that was. “We want to be a big, physical team”, he said, via the team’s website. “Love football. High-character guys…Guys that are resilient…They’re tough-minded players and people”.
Head coach Mike Tomlin frequently talks about smiling in the face of adversity, and of the importance of providing your team with adversity if the adversity doesn’t come to find you first. It shows you the makeup and the character of your team, and it shows them how they respond.
But what is left to add? Where are the opportunities? Well, there are always avenues, whether it’s through remaining unsigned free agents, through trades, or, as we’ll soon see, adding from other leagues like the XFL and the USFL.
Pittsburgh is likely still in search of depth at outside linebacker, for example. if I were them, I would still be hoping to provide more competition at offensive tackle. And another running back wouldn’t hurt, either.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that this offseason marks such a conscious, concerted effort to build toward a more defined identity. While the coaching staff (largely) remains the same, this is a new front office, one that just had its first opportunity to really put its own identity on the roster. And the product on the field will tell us how successful that was.