It’s been a rather busy offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers, featuring a number of free-agent signings and at least one key departure since the start of the new league year.
Despite adding cornerback Patrick Peterson, guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig and a pair of inside linebackers in Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts, the loss of cornerback Cameron Sutton to the Detroit Lions still stings. In fact, it played a major part in the Steelers falling two spots in the post-free agency power rankings from NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus Tuesday morning.
Prior to the start of the offseason, the 7-2 run to close 2022 saw Pittsburgh move up to No. 13 in Hanzus’ year-end power rankings. The changes in free agency though has the Steelers falling two spots to No. 15.
“The Steelers lost longtime cornerback Cameron Sutton in free agency, but they quickly pivoted to a splashy replacement. Enter Patrick Peterson, the eight-time Pro Bowl cover man who showed he still had playmaker ability during his two-year run in Minnesota. Peterson is a compelling addition, but Pittsburgh would be wise to bring aboard a name brand on the other side of the ball,” Hanzus writes. “The Steelers have firepower in running back Najee Harris, wide receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson and tight end Pat Freiermuth, but one more piece could be huge for second-year passer Kenny Pickett. If the Steelers brass believes in Pickett, it makes sense to be aggressive while the passer is still early on his rookie deal.”
The loss of Sutton is a big one, as it takes away a key, versatile piece of the secondary that did so much for the Steelers the last two seasons. That said, GM Omar Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl did a great job pivoting quickly and inking the veteran Peterson, who played some good football last season and has some sound football left in him.
Along with the signing of Peterson, the Steelers plugged some holes at linebacker with Holcomb and Roberts, addressed defensive line and safety depth by retaining Larry Ogunjobi and Damontae Kazee, and really rebuilt the interior of the offensive line with the signings of Seumalo and Herbig, shoring up the starting left guard position and adding experienced, versatile depth.
It’s been a very good offseason so far for the Steelers as Khan and Weidl have been aggressive in using cap space to address obvious needs.
As Hanzus points out, though, it will be interesting to see the Steelers go after another offensive piece if they truly believe in Pickett. Of course, the Steelers chased left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., so they are clearly invested in protecting Pickett. A veteran slot receiver would be a nice add for the Steelers at this point. It would hedge against a potential injury issue (again) with Calvin Austin III while adding experience to a receiver room that is really lacking behind Diontae Johnson and George Pickens.
Sitting at No. 15 in the offseason power rankings is a good spot for the Steelers, though having them two spots behind the Ravens with all Baltimore has lost this offseason is a bit of a surprise.