The Pittsburgh Steelers are not likely to be major players in free agency this year. I hope you were sitting down when you read that, as I understand it could have come as a bit of a shock. At least in comparison to last season when they were far more active.
But that’s the prevailing expectation this offseason, the Steelers currently about $10 million under the cap but with all of that already accounted for with predictable future moves. As Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out, their priority will be re-signing their own, but he did mention some potential areas they may look to address on the outside.
“I think that’s what you will see them do, with the possible exception of an ILB or a secondary member”, he said recently in response to a question about if the team is better suited to address their needs this year through the draft rather than free agency. “Most of their attention will be focused on re-signing their own free agents and then going from there”.
These are logical positions of consideration, with multiple free agents or cuts at both. At cornerback, they have already released William Jackson III, while Cameron Sutton, their top player, is an unrestricted free agent and James Pierre is a restricted free agent. Ahkello Witherspoon and his $4 million base salary are a potential cap casualty as well.
At inside linebacker, both Devin Bush and Robert Spillane, both of them with considerable starting experience, will be unrestricted free agents, though many expect that Spillane may be re-signed. Also a free agent is Marcus Allen, a special teamer. Some have speculated that Myles Jack, due $8 million, could potentially be a cap casualty.
But those are not the only positions at which they could potentially be lacking depth. The defensive line has Larry Ogunjobi and Tyson Alualu as pending free agents, with the latter a possible retirement candidate. The former they only had a chance to sign because an injury knocked his price down last year.
And there are still holes on offense as well. The offensive line is really in need of quality depth at the least, and if Zach Gentry isn’t re-signed, his role as in-line blocker needs replacing. At running back, the third position could be filled by re-signing Benny Snell Jr., which is very possible, but not guaranteed, and they will also need a third quarterback as well as possibly a veteran slot receiver.
Still, it’s quite possible that the inside linebacker and cornerback positions are the ones in greatest need of reinforcement, yet they could potentially need starters there as well. At the same time, even if Spillane and Sutton are re-signed, the depth would still be an issue.