Facing an offseason like the one the Steelers just went through, a lesser NFL General Manger would have just pulled the chord and started a tear down of the roster, and a rebuild. But Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert faced this task cool and collected. With -$40 million in cap space, multiple retirements, big name free agent losses, and mega deals to restructure, it looked like 2021 was going to be a rough one for Steelers fans. But, after the 2021 NFL Draft Colbert had the Steelers looking like a team that could push for a playoff spot. However, it wasn't until the summer of 2021 where Colbert turned this team into a contender, and the best part is, there’s still three more weeks until Week 1.
When reports surfaced that All-Pro guard David DeCastro was in need of another ankle surgery, and likely to miss the 2021 season, a lot of hope was lost. The Steelers were forced into making a tough decision and cut DeCastro to reclaim some cap space and plug the massive hole in its roster.
Colbert wasted no time in finding his replacement in former Pro Bowler, Trai Turner. While also structuring the deal in a way where Turner only cost the Steelers $3 million dollars.
The Steelers also had a large hole at the outside linebacker position where they desperately needed a third member, enter Melvin Ingram who signed for only a $1.66 million cap hit.
Fast forward to the first day of training camp and nine year veteran Vince Williams decides his career has run its course and retired from the NFL. The Steelers inside linebackers would then struggle in the early portions of camp. So, what does Colbert do? He sent a sixth round 2022 NFL Draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for one of the most underrated players in the game, Joe Schobert, and convinces the Jaguars to hold half of his salary.
But he still wasn't done! Colbert, and the Steelers’ front office, restructured Schobert’s deal and now he's only accounting for a little more than $1 million in cap space.
The Steelers turned David DeCastro’s release into:— Michael Beck (@MichaelBeck56) August 13, 2021
& Joe Schobert
This is a huge win for a guard that probably never plays this year
Over the next three weeks Colbert has a lot more business to attend too. Most notably finalizing the T.J. Watt mega-deal. The contract will be unprecedented for the Steelers, and will send shock waves across the league. This contract will shape the next half decade for this club, and will ensure Watt retires a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After that deal, Joe Haden has expressed his willingness to sign one more contract with the Steelers, so he can finish his career in the black and gold. This deal will surely be a discounted one, and could even save the Steelers money on the 2021 cap.
After these deals are done the Steelers will still have somewhere between $10-15 million in cap space, and considering how they bring around $5 million dollars into the season, expect Colbert to make one or even two more moves to improve this club. Those moves will come around the NFL cut deadline when some big name stars shake free. But, speaking of cuts, the final task Kevin Colbert will be faced with is attempting to deal players the Steelers are to cut anyway to try and recoup more draft capital for the 2022 NFL Draft. So, despite all the work Colbert already put in the last few weeks, a whole lot more still has to be done.
To recap this busy summer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team was faced with the retirements/release of Vince Williams and David DeCastro, they signed Trai Turner and Melvin Ingram for pennies on the dollar, and they traded for Joe Schobert for next to nothing. Plus the next three weeks could bring extensions for T.J. Watt and Joe Haden, trading veteran back ups for draft picks, and the acquiring of more talent.
I cannot honestly think of another offseason where the Steelers were so busy, let alone the summer months which are typically devoid of news. If the Steelers are to win a Super Bowl in 2021, I will point to this two month stretch as some of the finest GM’ing in not just NFL history, but sports history. What the Steelers have been able to build needs to be applauded, and the only way they get that recognition is by hoisting a Lombardi. Hopefully they've done enough.
But what do you think? Are you impressed by Kevin Colbert’s busy summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.