The first week of the NFL league year kicked off last Monday with two days of legal tampering before everything started officially on Wednesday. The news came fast and furious around the league as players looked to maximize their contracts as quickly as possible in a year where the NFL saw its first ever reduction of the salary cap.
But what should Steelers fans expect from week two of free agency?
The first week of free agency played out how it normally had for the Steelers with retaining some players, making a signing or two, and doing some of the things fans didn’t quite expect while not making a lot of splash. Chances are, week two may very well play out in the same manner. But by simply adding further depth to the roster, there may be some more answers for the direction of this Steelers team and their biggest needs going into the 2021 NFL draft next month.
So here are 6 things the Steelers will possibly do during the second wave a free agency. Note, a lot of these are similar to what we have already seen.
A cap reducing move
This is something we know will be coming much sooner than later in order for the Steelers to continue with business. Last week, it was the release of linebacker Vince Williams. Now, it appears it will be parting ways with cornerback Steven Nelson either via trade or release. While this may not necessarily be the case, it’s probably the safest bet. There could also come other contract extensions or restructures in order for the Steelers to have a little room to conduct business.
Losing someone fans expected to keep
While this is a scenario likely to happen, it won’t come to the level that it did in week one. Most of Steelers’ Nation expected Tyson Alualu to still be wearing black and gold next season only to see him return home to Jacksonville. With the Steelers not having as much of a high profile free agent left who many expect to stay, it still doesn’t mean it won’t happen. A number of Steelers fans may expect a player such as Jordan Dangerfield or Ola Adeniyi (who ironically signed with the Tennessee Titans just moments ago) to stick around with the team for another year. But as the Steelers make other moves, there is a chance one of these lower-salary players could choose to move on somewhere else.
Keeping someone fans expected to lose
The biggest news for the Steelers in free agency last week was being able to retain JuJu Smith-Schuster for another season. While many fans had faced the reality the Steelers wide receiver was likely moving on, seeing him come back to Pittsburgh for another season came as a bit of a shock to some. The Steelers still have other free agents out there many expect to move on, such as Alejandro Villanueva, James Conner, or Avery Williamson, and there is still the possibility someone in this category sticks in Pittsburgh for another season.
Changing the “need” status of a position group
As many are looking ahead to the NFL draft and what the Steelers could do to build the roster in this manner, there is a decent chance a high position of need could come off the board with a free agent signing. Should the Steelers add a running back or tight end, these positions could go from one some fans believe the Steelers could invest high in the draft to being something pushed completely off the radar. On the flip side, a position where the Steelers seemed to have everything lined up, such as cornerback, could even come back in to play as a higher need in April’s draft.
Not signing a big outside free agent
Some people may even question why I put this on the list. The Steelers in a normal year would not be a big player in spending money on an outside free agent, let alone during a cap crunch. But as there still big names out there who will be likely still carry a hefty salary, I don’t expect Steelers to make those type of moves at this time.
Doing what needs to be done
It’s not always the flashy signing, but the Steelers will continue to build this roster during the second wave a free agency. In places where they need help, they will add depth. In places where there are uncertainties, the Steelers may look to sure things up. Positions some fans think might wait until the draft, don’t necessarily count on it. The Steelers like to have their roster fairly set without counting on their draft picks, and even though 2021 is a much different year, I still expect them to at least try to get all their ducks in a row before the end of April.
So there are some things to expect with the Pittsburgh Steelers as free agency continues on into week two. As disappointing as it was for Steelers fans at times seeing players lost and other teams making moves, the Steelers still managed to make some moves in order to build their 2021 roster. With this being the way they conduct business, it appears more of these lesser profile moves will be likely as the 2021 offseason continues on.