When the Steelers 2020 season came to a close and we realized the proposed salary cap originally thought to be north of 200 million dollars dropped by 20 million, the thought was the Steelers would have to tear apart a large portion of their roster and lose all of their free agents. While Bud Dupree and Mike Hilton walked in free agency, and David DeCastro and Steven Nelson were released, the Steelers were able to make some creative moves to keep the bulk of the roster together. These moves include a list of things that Kevin Colbert either never or rarely does over his 20+ years as Steelers General Manager.
Below are all the moves that go against the Steelers core offseason philosophies:
Void year contracts
The first item on the Steelers offseason agenda was to figure out the contract of Ben Roethlisberger who was set to account for over 40 million dollars on the salary cap. They decided to take a page out of other teams playbooks, as well as getting a little relief from the veteran play-caller himself. The Steelers added four void years to the contract of Ben Roethlisberger, lowing his cap hit exponentially and pushing money into the future. Not only did they sign this type of deal with Roethlisberger but they signed Eric Ebon to one as well as JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cam Sutton.
Re-Signed a Wide Receiver
Speaking of JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers did something they haven't done since Antonio Brown was on the team and Hines Ward before him. They offered and signed a rookie receiver a second contract. Think of all the other great Steelers receivers over the years that didn't get a second deal; Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders, etc! It was a big deal for JuJu to get another deal, but he will be right back on the market in less than 12 months.
Drafted a non-underclassmen in the first round
This one is a bit of a new trend, but first-round picks under Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are more often than not underclassmen. Najee Harris, the senior stud running back out of Alabama decided to return to school in 2020 and enter the draft after his senior year in 2021. The gamble paid off for Harris as not only did he win the National title but was the nations top running back and the first running back selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. He must have really impressed the Steelers front office because they typically chase the youngest players available on the board.
Signed a defender that was older than 30
The Pittsburgh Steelers recently broke one of their cardinal rules, like this is something that almost never ever happens. They signed a defensive, street free agent, from another team, who is older than 30 to a contract. The Steelers don't do this, ever! But 32-year-old Melvin Ingram signed on the dotted line to give the Steelers some much needed experience and talent to their edge rusher room. The team needed his abilities and they went against the grain to improve their roster.
Starting a third-round pick in Week 1
This one isn't official yet, but Kendrick Green started the first day of training camp as the Steelers starting center and he was announced to start at the spot for the upcoming Hall of Fame Game. The Steelers rarely start first-round picks in Week 1, let alone third rounders. If he does get the nod, Kendrick Green will do something not seen since Maurkice Pouncey for the Steelers and start a game on the offensive line as a rookie in Week 1. This is a mind-boggling development for anyone who has followed this team the past 20 years, and simply unheard of. The Steelers rookies will be counted on more than ever, I hope they're ready.
Mike Tomlin says rookie Kendrick Green is the starter at center … for the first preseason game.— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 22, 2021
But what do you think? Is this the new aggressive approach Kevin Colbert will take into every offseason or was this a one off because of a reduced salary cap and trying to take one more run with Ben Roethlisberger? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!