While the offseason is far from over for NFL teams, with Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp wrapping up, the majority of the offseason is in the rear view mirror.
With that said, many outlets are finding this to be a suitable time to give out some grades as to what went on throughout the offseason. Grades on players who left, the 2019 NFL Draft, players acquired via free agency.
The NFL experts at ESPN didn’t just grade the Steelers’ offeseason, but they commented on many different aspects of what went down over the past four months. But first, let’s take a look at the overall offseason grade:
By trading Antonio Brown and allowing Le’Veon Bell to sign elsewhere, the Steelers put all their chips in the Ben Roethlisberger basket.
The Steelers’ offseason turned into a circus, with Antonio Brown forcing a trade after gaining a league-high 9,145 receiving yards over the previous six seasons. Le’Veon Bell’s departure was quiet by comparison, but the effect was similar. Is there upside?
”I’ll say this, I think Pittsburgh is going to come out of it looking good,” an exec said. “I like the way they have churned that culture and the guys they picked up and drafted kind of start them back in the old Pittsburgh way.”
This offseason amounted to doubling down on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, including with a contract extension.
The experts, and quoted team execs, didn’t stop at the offseason grades. They also touched on five other areas for the Steelers heading into the 2019 season. Check out what they had to say:
Here are five of the most interesting comments I collected from execs during a tumultuous Steelers offseason:
• On the Steelers, like the Giants, parting with high-profile players: “Look, the game has changed. Players have changed. These older franchises that have always had a staid way of doing things, it does not fly anymore. Players do not care. They are their own brand, and if you can’t accept that, then you probably are going to struggle. For the Bears, it took [Matt] Nagy to come in and shake it up.”
• On why the Steelers seem less stable: “I think Mr. [Dan] Rooney’s passing [in 2017] really hurt that team. He had so much backbone to stand up and do things the way they are supposed to be done.”
• On going all-in with Roethlisberger: “[GM] Kevin [Colbert] was put in a tough spot, because if you have to pick between those three guys [Roethlisberger, Bell or Brown], I would back Ben too.”
• On Colbert saying Roethlisberger was free to criticize teammates at will: “What happened in a moment of rash decision-making was, they chose a quarterback over a head coach. When you make those decisions where you empower the player over everyone in the organization, that invites trouble. I don’t know how many players in league history you can feel safe entrusting everything to while he is a player.”
• On an underrated Steelers departure: “To me, the biggest loss is [offensive line coach] Mike Munchak. They go from having a top-five O-line coach to breaking in a replacement who might be good but has never held that job before.”
Despite all the turmoil and change, execs generally thought the Steelers would challenge for the AFC North title and that their floor was probably the highest in the division. They thought first-round linebacker Devin Bush was exactly what the defense needed, and also thought the Steelers’ success in drafting receivers merited optimism on third-round choice Diontae Johnson.
”This would probably piss off Steelers fans who are upset with how things are going, but this is still a really talented team, and when Ben Roethlisberger is executing, they can win the Super Bowl,” an evaluator said.
All of that said, what do you think about the grade? What do you think about the comments of the team execs? Were they spot on, or way off base? Let us know what you think about the Steelers’ offseason in the comment section below!