After the Pittsburgh Steelers released both Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden, their need at safety was real. So much so, many experts were expecting them to both pick up a safety via free agency, as well as in the 2018 NFL Draft.
This still may be the case, but if the team doesn’t have a prospect who they feel is worth a first, or second, round pick, the acquisition of Morgan Burnett certainly helps ease the blow for the black-and-gold.
By now fans have all heard and read about how Burnett is the type of player who is experienced, has tremendous leadership, great versatility and a sure tackler. But how does he exactly improve the Steelers’ roster? NFL Insiders recently gave their opinion — see what they had to say:
The Steelers’ search for an upgrade at safety led them to Morgan Burnett, whose ability to play a dime linebacker role could help Pittsburgh at two positions of need.
”Burnett is high-character, very much the Steeler kind of brand, but he is older and doesn’t produce like he used to,” an exec said. “You get a more stable [version of] Mike Mitchell but a less explosive [version of] Mike Mitchell.”
Another insider said this offseason has fallen right for Pittsburgh. The safety market was soft, allowing Burnett’s deal to come in under $5 million per year. The draft appears heavy on talent at linebacker, which is another position Pittsburgh needs to target after losing Ryan Shazier.
”They have the most star players in the league and they are also really good at being able to find glue guys to fill specific roles like [Alejandro] Villanueva at left tackle or Mike Hilton, who is suddenly their nickel corner out of nowhere,” an insider said. “Burnett is not the same player he was, health-wise and movement-wise, but he does bring some versatility.”
Those who pegged the Steelers to both draft a safety, and bring in one via free agency, it seems as if the experts who talked about the team’s overall pick up of Burnett agree with you.
Burnett isn’t the long-term answer, but most realistic fans knew this when the team signed him. What he can be is a bridge player until a young rookie is ready, and if the team drafts an NFL ready safety from Day 1, Burnett is versatile enough to be a nickel and dime specialist for Keith Butler’s defense.
Don’t let these insiders’ opinions sway you away from how good this acquisition was for Pittsburgh. When it comes to an insurance policy, Burnett is about as good as you can get, from the safeties who were available on the free agent market. However, fans should expect the team to still target a safety on Day 1 or 2 of the upcoming NFL Draft to help solidify the position for years to come.