The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long list of Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) who are about to hit the open market, and some on that list are some pretty big names. When you have players like Bud Dupree, James Conner, Matt Feiler, Alejandro Villanueva, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Hilton and Cam Sutton, among others, who are not guaranteed to be back in 2021, fans take notice.
Of all the players, who are the biggest names on the Steelers’ list?
ESPN put out their Top 50 Free Agent list for 2021 NFL Free Agency, and the Steelers had three of their own make the list. In fact, those three players made ESPN’s Top 25.
Take a look at who made the list, and where they rank below:
7. Bud Dupree, Edge
2020 team: Pittsburgh Steelers | Age entering 2021 season: 27
Since the start of the 2019 season, Dupree has more sacks (19.5) than all but seven players in the NFL — and that’s despite missing the final five games of this season because of a torn ACL. A significant injury in a contract year isn’t ideal, but it’s also not the market buster that it once was. Assuming there are no reported complications, a pass-rusher like Dupree is going to find significant interest on the open market.
21. Alejandro Villanueva, OT
2020 team: Pittsburgh Steelers | Age entering 2021 season: 32
Even if his best days are behind him, Villanueva plays a position that is very difficult to replace in free agency. Teams consider it a win to find a serviceable left tackle in free agency, and he certainly qualifies in that regard.
25. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR
2020 team: Pittsburgh Steelers | Age entering 2021 season: 24
There’s no other way to put it: Smith-Schuster had a confounding contract year. Playing in the Steelers’ short passing game, he caught 97 passes — ninth most in the NFL — but averaged only 8.6 yards per catch. That was the third lowest among the wide receivers who caught at least 50 passes in 2020. The performance isn’t likely to change teams’ perceptions of his potential as a downfield receiver, but it could prompt at least a closer look.
Of the aforementioned free agents, which would you like to see the Steelers keep? Of course, the salary cap plays a huge role in the decision, but which player would you love for the team to bring back?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for NFL Free Agency and the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.