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Pittsburgh Steelers Rumor Roundup: Pre-Free Agency Edition

Checking in on the gossip surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

With the start date of the 2021 NFL league year just around the corner, a number of Steelers rumors are beginning to pop up. While outside unrestricted free agents are still not allowed to be tampered with, the Steelers have a lot on their plate to accomplish in house. With help from ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler dropping an arsenal worth of news bombs, we can see the skeleton of the Steelers offseason begin to take shape.

Without further adieu, I present you with the leading rumors surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers:

How close were the Steelers to signing J.J. Watt?

The Pittsburgh Steelers indeed place a call into J.J. Watt’s representatives. They may even have been one of the final five teams which J.J. was considering. However, because of dollar amount the Steelers could never come close too, a competitive offer was never submitted.

Add on the Steelers philosophical beliefs about signing defenders in their thirties to big money deals, and it was suspected the Steelers would not have been in the conversation in a normal league year.

When can we expect a Ben Roethlisberger extension?

As early as this week. Both Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers want to get a deal done. However, Fowler believed he would be unwilling to make a pure pay-cut. Instead the ESPN analyst suggested they may agree to a deal with dummy ‘void’ years attached to it. A deal of that structure would be the first of its kind for the Steelers.

What will the Steelers do at quarterback beyond 2021?

Fowler believes everything is still on the table. From drafting someone within the next two years, or signing a free agent anything could happen. However, he did go on to say Mason Rudolph is still highly looked upon by those in the organization and he could very well receive an extension come next offseason.

Will the Steelers re-sign Bud Dupree or JuJu Smith-Schuster?

Reports suggest Bud Dupree is ahead of his ACL rehab schedule. Fowler scoffed at the idea he would return to Pittsburgh on a one year deal. Dupree is going to command a big ticket offer and one the Steelers will have no chance of sniffing. They may still make an offer out of courtesy but Dupree is not expected back in the Steel City. Fowler also pointed at a future T.J. Watt extension surpassing $28 million per year as a reason the Steelers may be unwilling to offer a big time offer.

JuJu Smith-Schsuter on the other hand could still return to Pittsburgh after the club lets him explore the free agent market. If a deal isn't available for the 24 year old receiver the Steelers could swoop back in and retain the former pro bowler.

What’s going on with the corners?

Fowler expects both Joe Haden and Steven Nelson to be back in black and gold in 2021. Both could also sign extensions to lower their cap hit. In Haden’s case, he is so highly respected within the locker room that Fowler would be ‘mildly surprised’ if the Steelers decided to part ways with him.

As for Mike Hilton, Fowler thinks the nickel corner priced himself out of the Steelers’ range and will receive more money elsewhere. Cameron Sutton is the wildcard who the Steelers could bring back on a smaller hybrid player type deal.

How high will the Steelers draft a running back?

Fowler doesn't see the Steelers bucking the trend of searching for running backs in the middle rounds. Noting the teams ability to dig up Le’Veon Bell and James Conner in these slots in the past. However, if the Steelers really fell in love with a player they might go running back in the first round.

But what do you think? How will the Steelers deal with their in-house moves prior to the start of the new league year? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.