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Despite free agent losses, the Steelers defense still ranks atop the NFL

A full positional ranking for the Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: OCT 28 Dolphins at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have bled talent over the first few days of free agency. Common internet Steelers fans have been quite down on these departures, and for good reason. The most important thing to remember, however, is that the Steelers defensive core has been kept together. T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Devin Bush, and even Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Joe Haden will be back once again in 2021. The accompanying pieces will look different, but the talent of this team is unscathed.

Mike Clay has backed up these claims with his weekly free agency update chart. Including remaining free agents, and both positional and unit rankings for all 32 teams. What jumps off the page is the Steelers’ number one ranked defense, paired with its 23rd ranked offense, and its combined 9th overall ranking. While what's on paper doesn't reflect directly to the game, it’s a good reminder the Steelers aren't in as bad a place as some may think.

The Steelers are spearheaded by their defensive line, which received a perfect 4.0 rating. Followed closely by safeties and corners (which will drop after the Steven Nelson saga). The Steelers linebackers are the defense’s weak spot dropping to a 1.4 following the release of Vince Williams.

Offensively, things are much more grim, but the holes should dictate how the Steelers spend their remaining free agent dollars. Both the offensive line and running back groups are ranked second worst in the NFL. Followed by the tight ends (1.0/4.0), then quarterbacks (1.9/4.0) with the receiving being the number one unit ranking fifth in the league (3.5/4.0).

My two main takeaways from Clay’s reporting are how things are not nearly as doom and gloom as they seem. But also the Steelers cannot be finished with spending on the open market. The Steelers offensive line could be brought off of life support with the addition of a veteran center. The list of veteran centers still on the market include Austin Reiter, Joe Looney, Austin Bythe, and Ben Garland.

A strong draft class at running back, linebacker, and a tackle successor would keep this team on the correct path in their journey for a seventh Lombardi Trophy. Some smart General Manager moves could see the Steelers enter 2021 with an improved roster, but the Steelers will need patience and a willingness to spend the money they free up.

But what do you think? Have the Steelers survived the free agency mayhem better than other teams? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.