There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the Steelers parting ways with Vince Williams, Steven Nelson on the trade block, free agent losses galore and the retention of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Zach Banner and Cameron Sutton. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be the No. 2 hit from 1976, “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale. Here’s a sample of that classic...
Do you remember the day (that sunny day)
When you first came my way
I said, no one could take your place
And if you get hurt (if you get hurt)
By the little things I say
I can put that smile back on your face
Ooh, and it’s alright and it’s coming on
We gotta get it right back to where we started from
Love is good, love can be strong
We gotta get it right back to where we started from
You can ponder the significance or wonder whether they are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some great disco. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time will tell.
JuJu Smith-Schuster established himself as a team player by turning down the Chiefs and Ravens
Circumstances may change in 2022, but for now... JuJu Smith-Schuster is a certified Steel City hero after spurning other teams offering more lucrative deals. Even though the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs had better offers, JuJu apparently recognized Pittsburgh as home and decided to stay and play for Mike Tomlin and with Ben Roethlisberger another year. In KC, 19 would have been a third option to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. In Baltimore, he would be in a situation where the run game is successful and the passing attack is suspect. Let’s not forget that there are greater advantages to being a free agent next season when Boujees’s dad can cash in tremendously. But for now, JuJu has gained a lot by taking less.
The Steelers kept JuJu over Steven Nelson
The knee-jerk reaction to Steven Nelson demanding a trade out of Pittsburgh is that the Steelers chose to keep JuJu Smith-Schuster over the talented corner. However, JuJu only counts $1.74 million against the 2021 cap after roster displacement. Because of some cryptic tweets earlier this week, something was definitely on Steven’s mind. If anything, the Steelers chose Joe Haden over Nelson. Haden carries less dead money than his counterpart does. So essentially, the Steelers selected No. 23 over No. 22. Furthermore, the Steelers signed two players on Saturday after they agreed to bring back Smith-Schuster. So the local media needs to can the narrative that keeping Juju cost the Steelers Steven Nelson. One more point to clarify though, Steven Nelson isn’t the villain here. The Steelers are trying to grant a trade here to grant their player a a chance to choose his own situation.
The Steelers should get a high pick in a trade for Nelson
I actually doubt that the Steelers will be able to trade Stephen Nelson and it has very little to do with the Steelers’ talented cornerback. Pittsburgh granted the proprietor of Nelson Island an opportunity to pursue a trade. The problem persists, though, that there are plenty of free agent corners out there on the market. Teams would not have to give up a draft pick to attain a Richard Sherman, Brian Poole, McKenzie Alexander, Casey Heyward, Xavier Rhodes or a host of others. Plus, Kyle Fuller has not been released by the Bears and will be trade competition as well. (Note: Fuller signed on with the Broncos on Saturday). The Steelers might not be able to get a high pick, because an outright release seems more likely.
Throw out your mock drafts because a lot has changed for the Steelers
For the longest time, every mock draft that I have seen has featured a number of collegiate tackles, guards, centers and running backs at the top of the projections for the Steelers at No. 24. But move over Najee Harris. Step aside Teven Jenkins. Wait over there Creed Humphrey and say hello to Xaven Collins, Nick Bolton, Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn. With the release of Vince Williams and Steven Nelson, the defense has thinned more than expected. Kevin Colbert’s draft board has just gotten even more crowded with inside linebacker and corner a big priority now.
The Steelers lost their enforcer when they released Vince Williams
Much like a hockey franchise, football teams have enforcers as well. While not exactly performing the same role on the gridiron as they do on the ice, it’s necessary to have a player that can stick up for his teammates and preserve order. Williams was that guy for the Men of Steel. When the defense struggled against the run at the start of the 2019 season and towards the end of 2020, Williams was not in the lineup. When No. 98 returned, the defense returned to dominance and played lights out. Salary cap casualties are the norm these days and I understand the move by the team, but the Steelers lost a lot of toughness when they let VinnyVidiVici go.
Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game and listen for more on the player below.