We are in the full swing of NFL free agency, and the Steelers have not been players in the slightest. For a team that is right up against the salary cap, and given their history with free agents, this is not surprising. However, the Steelers have a number of holes to fill, and they will do whatever it takes not to force a rookie into the lineup on day one. They will sign a number of players over the coming weeks, especially as money across the league dries up.
The following list highlights the biggest holes of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the best available fits of players remaining on the open market. I’m not considering anyone who was a member of the 2020 Steelers because, well, that isn't very much fun.
Let’s do this!
Center: Austin Blythe
The top centers originally on the market have all been scooped up. Austin Blythe represents the best of what is remaining with few options behind him. Considering what this team is trying to accomplish and what insiders are reporting, the Steelers should absolutely be looking for a starting capable center. Blythe would be an affordable option with a pedigree behind him. Starting 47/48 Games over the past three seasons including a trip to the Super Bowl. Just 28 years old this should be the guy.
Will it happen: It better
Running back: Damien Williams
The last time Williams saw NFL action was back in Super Bowl 54. A COVID opt-out in 2020 has stunted his market. Williams should be looking for a one year, prove it style deal to get back into the league. The Steelers are also offering a starting spot to any running back they may sign. An opportunity like this to a player like Damien Williams should work for all parties involved.
Will it happen: Unlikely. Anticipate a runner in the draft
Tight End: Jesse James
Aside from James White signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this feels like the worst kept secret of the 2021 off-season. From the moment Jesse James was released there were immediate ties to the big tight end making his return to his hometown and former team. it's more surprising than not this move hasn't already been made.
Will it happen: Most likely
Wide Receiver: Golden Tate
If the Pittsburgh Steelers lose JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency, they should be looking to address the position with both a veteran and a rookie. Perhaps the best slot receiver still left on the market is former New York Jet, Golden Tate. Tate can offer some experience and guidance for the teams young receivers and offer as a reliable weapon to Ben Roethlisberger.
Will it happen: If JuJu is gone-gone then possibly
Nose tackle: Danny Shelton
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of some beef in the middle of their defense. There really isn't too many options to fill the spot, if they take a free agency approach and want to have someone younger than 30 in the spot it comes down between Shelton and big Dan McCullers. I believe the McCullers experience is far passed its expiration and Shelton is the best viable option remaining.
Will it happen: Doubtful
Depth Outside Linebacker: Barkevious Mingo
Depth at outside linebacker is a substantial hole For the Pittsburgh Steelers. Free agents come out of premium, and someone in a backup parole will have special teams responsibilities. Barkevious Mingo may be the best option for both roles.
Will it happen: If they don’t draft number of edge guys it’s possible.
Depth Inside Linebacker: L.J. Fort
The recently released LJ for could make his way back to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defense is in a position of flux so it is genuinely hard to decipher what kind of moose they will make on the defensive side of the ball until they make them. Fort is someone who can do a little bit of everything and has experience in the steel city.
Will it happen: If Baltimore doesn't re-sign him first, sure.
What do you think? How many of the above names could sign on the dotted line? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.