Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agency Outlook

Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agency Preview

The Pittsburgh Steelers finished 2021 with their 18th straight season of having a record of .500 or better and was their second consecutive season reaching the postseason. They were an early exit from the playoffs with a 42-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round. Pittsburgh finished 2nd in the AFC North behind Cincinnati with a record of 9-7-1 record despite major questions surrounding their offense which finished 21st in points and 23rd in total yards. However, the biggest question moving forward is; who’s going to replace the newly retired quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

Without the inclusion of Roethlisberger, the Steelers have 23 upcoming free agents this offseason. Only two of the 23 are over the age of thirty. 

Update: The Steelers now have $28,811,582 available in cap space.

Steelers Impending Free Agents:

  • CB Joe Haden
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • TE Eric Ebron
  • CB Ahkello Witherspoon
  • OG Trai Turner
  • S Terrell Edmunds
  • LB Miles Killebrew
  • WR James Washington
  • QB Joshua Dobbs
  • WR Ray-Ray McCloud
  • CB Arthur Maulet
  • C BJ Finney
  • EDGE Taco Charlton
  • IDL Montravius Adams
  • RB Kalen Ballage
  • RT Chukwuma Okorafor
  • LB Robert Spillane (RFA)
  • QB Dwayne Haskins (RFA)
  • LB Marcus Allen (RFA)
  • C JC Hassenauer (ERFA)
  • P Corliss Waitman (SFA)
  • CB DeMarkus Acy (ERFA)

With both Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs hitting the open market, the Steelers only currently rostered quarterback for the 2022 season is Mason Rudolph. In addition, Pittsburgh has multiple pieces of their secondary unsigned: Joe Haden, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Terrell Edmunds

The right side of their offensive line is set to become free agents and right tackle will be an immediate need if they chose to let Chukwuma Okorafor walk. Witherspoon and Haden hitting the market makes cornerback another position of need–their current starters are James Pierre and Cameron Sutton. Finding a box safety to replace Edmunds and a 3rd option at wide receiver are not as major concerns as quarterback, offensive tackle, and cornerback but are still needs the team could address with middle to late round draft picks. 

Franchise Tag:

There are two players the Steelers could look to franchise tag this offseason. Safety Terrell Edmunds and right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. Edmunds had arguably the best season of his career–playing in all 17 games while having a career high in tackles for loss with 8. Okorafor had a career best 3.6% pressure percentage allowed and allowed 2 sacks in 720 pass blocking attempts. Below is both players’ projected franchise tag numbers:

  • Terrell Edmunds: $13,544,000
  • Chukwuma Okorafor: $16,698,000

The Steelers could potentially cut offensive guard Zach Banner this offseason. He started no games in 2021 and is owed $6.625M in 2021. Pittsburgh could save $5M if they cut him prior to June 1st. 

Update: The Steelers elected to not use their franchise tag this offseason.

Top Team Needs:

  1. Quarterback to replace Roethlisberger
  2. Replace or re-sign cornerbacks
  3. Offensive tackle (RT)
  4. Box Safety
  5. Wide Receiver

Pittsburgh’s current needs are as follows: quarterback, offensive tackle, cornerback, safety, and wide receiver. Quarterback is their biggest need–Rudolph hasn’t looked promising in the 10 games he’s started in 3 years and he’s currently #1 on their depth chart.