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Steelers Positional Spending: Did the team get the best bang for their buck?

Taking a look at where the Steelers put the most money, and if it paid off for them.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the NFL’s playoff brackets are set and the Pittsburgh Steelers are not included, it is time to do a bit of a year in review, with a twist. Below is a breakdown of how much each positional group cost the Steelers in 2019 and where they rank compared to the rest of the NFL in terms of cap space used.

(All numbers provided by Over the Cap and does not include dead cap space.)




Rank: 5

Note: Steelers had second-fewest passing yards in the NFL in 2019.

Running back


Rank: 32

Note: Steelers were 29th in total yards rushing in 2019.

Wide receivers


Rank: 31

Note: The rank shows how young our wideouts are but is not indicative of their potential.

Tight ends


Rank 12

Note: Vance McDonald was 40th of all tight ends with 19.5 yards per game and tied for 20th with 38 receptions. He rarely pass blocked but was not very effective run blocking.

Offensive line


Rank: 11

Note: The offense was 27th in total points and 30th for total yards. The line looked a bit old this year and ineffective opening up running lanes.

Total offensive spending


Rank: 23

Note: You get what you pay for?


Defensive line


Rank: 11

Note: The line was excellent even without Stefon Tuitt for much of the season.

Linebackers (ILBs and OLBs are all lumped together.)


Rank: 7

Note: The Steelers OLBs were worth every penny, ILBs as a whole, not so much.



Rank: 28

Note: Two first-rounders top this bunch and are worth the very low cost.



Rank: 16

Note: Haden came to life during the 2019 season with five interceptions but the true difference-maker was free agent acquisition, Steven Nelson. This figure will go up in 2020 due to increases in their salaries and the likelihood that Mike Hilton receives an RFA tender.

Defense total


Rank: 11\

Note: Worth every penny. Tied for fifth for points surrendered and fifth in yards given up. Second with 20 interceptions to go along with 54 sacks that led the NFL. An interesting tidbit I found on PFR is that 19.8 percent of all opposing drives, tops in the NFL, ended in the Steelers taking the ball away.

My list of best to worst bang for our buck by position.

1: Safeties were dirt cheap compared to their stellar production.

2: The cornerback group was solid in the second half of the season while Nelson was absolutely dominant in coverage.

3: Linebackers were tough to put this far down due to the production of Watt and Dupree. I knocked them further down the list because of the big issues of Barron and Bush.

4: The defensive line was excellent against the run and would have been even better had Tuitt stayed healthy.

5: Wideouts were dirt cheap because of their rookies contracts. Smith-Schuster might have had a season to forget and Washington flashed but the real surprise for me was Johnson. He beat my expectations and really showed great route running ability.

6: The running back group could not generate much on the ground and mostly receiving the ball for huge chunks out of the year.

7 Pittsburgh’s offensive line was a liability after years of being an asset especially pass blocking. Rarely were there gaping holes let alone cracks for back to fit through.

8: McDonald’s was vastly overpaid for his production. Was the lack of production his fault alone? Nope, especially given the number of snaps he spends running routes.

9: Take Big Ben’s huge cap number out of the equation and I would be happy with the cap hit compared to production. ($1.3 million for Hodges and Rudolph.)

Poor quarterback play assisted by a porous and unproductive run-blocking line stagnated the Steelers offense once Roethlisberger went down for the season. Will the offense be able to return to the 2018 form in 2020?

The defense was dominant much of the season while being a turnover machine. This defense should remain largely intact next season where hopefully a functional offense will allow the unit to take more chances than in 2019 and be even more dominant.

How do you rank the Steelers positional spending in 2019? Let us know in the comments section below.