NFL Training Camps are now a few weeks away, so it is a perfect time to do a Pittsburgh Steelers offseason review. In one of the biggest offseasons in Steelers’ history we’ve seen a lot of change. From the franchise quarterback, to the 22-year General Manager, to even the return specialist. Let’s take a quick look at the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.
The Front Office
We’ll start at the top. The Steelers front office saw a lot of changes this offseason. None bigger than GM Kevin Colbert retiring post-draft and Omar Khan being promoted in his place. You can see my in-depth views on the promotion here. As a younger person who came up through the football ops ranks as opposed to scouting Khan is sure to bring a new spin to the role. However his own 21-year tenure with the team should also keep some continuity going.
For the first time since 2003 Ben Roethlisberger will not be on the Steelers’ roster. Pittsburgh has met that problem from multiple angles both looking to the draft and free agency. Pittsburgh signed Mitch Trubisky on the first day of free agency this offseason, and drafted Kenny Pickett in the first round of April’s draft. Trubisky is the front runner to be the Week 1 starter, but don’t be surprised if Pickett overtakes him at some point this season, before cementing his place as this team’s future next season.
Both Trubisky and Pickett will bring an element of mobility and playmaking this team did not have the last two seasons at QB. While neither will bring the pedigree of “Big Ben”, the style of play they can utilize better fits today’s NFL offenses, and what Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada wants to do.
Despite making some moves to the wide receiver room this offseason, Pittsburgh’s skill position players were pretty well-established. The offensive line however, needed a big improvement. To address that, the Steelers brought in outside free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole. Daniels walks in as this team’s best offensive linemen. His combination of athleticism and aggressiveness will be a big improvement at right guard. Mason Cole is an at best average NFL center, but that is a lot better than what Kendrick Green gave this team last year.
Offensive line is about having no weak links. While Daniels and Cole aren’t the flashiest names they could have gone after, they greatly increase the floor for this group.
Defensive Front Seven
The Pittsburgh front seven produced the worst run defense in the NFL last year, and in Pittsburgh Steelers history. This was a result of injuries, poor depth, and poor play from the off-ball linebackers. So how did the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason address these issues? Let’s start with the defensive line.
Missing from last year’s team were Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu. Alualu will be returning to the unit, while Tuitt decided to retire from football. To combat this the team has signed Larry Ogunjobi who had a career-high seven sacks last season. Ogunjobi is also a good run defender and has played five years of AFC North football.
To help the depth piece the team drafted DeMarvin Leal and re-signed Montravius Adams this offseason. Leal will be good rotational pass rusher in sub-packages, and Adams will provide better insurance for Alualu than the likes of Isaiah Buggs and Henry Mondeaux last season. Adams was a big boost to the team last year, but didn’t join the Steelers until Week 13.
The off-ball linebacker play should also be improved with the addition of Myles Jack. Jack replaces one time teammate Joe Schobert who the team cut this offseason. Schobert struggled for much of the year, especially when it came to containing the middle of the field. Jack’s athleticism should be a huge benefit to the team as a whole. I’m also expecting a better season from fourth year linebacker Devin Bush, who now has a full season under his best post ACL injury.
The Steelers did a nice job in the defensive backfield this offseason. The team re-signed Ahkello Witherspoon and Terrell Edmunds, signed Levi Wallace and Damontae Kazee, and extended Minkah Fitzpatrick. After the 2021 season saw a lot of turnover (losing Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, bringing Witherspoon in late in the summer), it’s nice to see a lot of returners in 2022. Gone is Joe Haden, a fan favorite and one of the best free agent signings in Pittsburgh this century. But Haden’s best days are behind him, and it began to show in his play last season.
What’s to Come
There are two matters outstanding when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason. Those matters are the extensions of Diontae Johnson and Chris Boswell. Boswell should get an extension done soon making him the highest paid kicker in the league. Johnson however, is a little murkier of a situation. I wrote about the financial value he is likely worth here.
The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason was a lot bigger and busier than it has been in decades. Overall the team did a good job of re-tooling on the fly. I always say fans, media members, and even those in the league just want to see a team act. The Steelers certainly did that. By taking multiple swings at their various holes they have increased their odds of filling them for the 2022-23 season.
On paper this team has addressed their shortcomings, meaning they should be able to get back to at least 10 wins. With what should be a near-elite defense once again, and an offense with a little more cohesion there is no reason the Steelers aren’t half of a game better than last year. But of course games aren’t played on paper.
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