The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is officially over, and that means the offseason has begun. When the offseason begins, fans start to look ahead, and rightfully so. They look at NFL Free Agency, both players who could be coming and going, as well as the NFL Draft.
Regardless of free agency or the draft, the discussion always stems from team needs for the black and gold. Everyone has their own thoughts on what is best for the team moving forward, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.
This is just my opinion.
So, below are my Top 5 team positional needs for the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, free agency and the NFL Draft. This is just the first of many updated team needs, as things can certainly change between now and the new league year. For instance, if the team ends up bringing back a player like JuJu Smith-Schuster, it would certainly knock the wide receiver position down, or out of, the Top 5 team needs.
Okay, let’s get down to business...
I’m not suggesting the Kendrick Green experiment is over, but one thing which was evident in 2021 was the Steelers need for better play in the middle of the offensive line. Green, who didn’t come into the NFL with a great deal of experience at center, might develop into the Steelers’ starting center, but if there is even a hint of doubt in that fact the team should be finding help. Ideally, the Steelers target a free agent who has the experience necessary to step in on Day 1 and be an improvement over both Green and J.C. Hassenauer. Both of those players would provide quality depth at both guard and center, but finding a plug-and-play center is a top priority this offseason.
2. Offensive Tackle
With the assumption the Steelers allow Chuks Okorafor hit free agency, and they release Zach Banner for salary cap purposes, it would equate to the team going into the 2022 regular season with Dan Moore Jr. and Joe Haeg. Whether Moore will turn into a mainstay at tackle is up for debate, but it only solidifies the thought the team needs to address the position this offseason. This is a position I would love to see the Steelers address in both free agency and the upcoming draft. It is time to stock the cupboard at tackle, and not just with players who bounce around the league.
3. Defensive Tackle
Again, this position being in the Top 5 is based on a specific player’s future. Of course, I’m talking about Stephon Tuitt. If Tuitt tells the Steelers he is healthy, both physically and mentally, the team can move forward knowing their defensive line will be just fine. When you consider the line of Tuitt, Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu and Chris Wormley and Isaiahh Loudermilk as primary reserves, it wouldn’t require much attention. However, take Tuitt out of that equation and the run defense takes a huge hit. I’m not about to have a repeat of 2021, and bringing in a tackle will be a must. This could be a free agent acquisition, but I’d love to see them take a young, strong tackle who is ready to make an impact right away.
4. Offensive Guard
See a trend yet? The Steelers need to revamp their lines, especially the offensive line, and that is across the board. Kevin Dotson looks like the real deal, but there is no doubt there is a disconnect between what fans see, and what the coaching staff sees. Regardless of Dotson’s status moving forward, the team would be wise to look for another bruising, and athletic guard to put opposite Dotson. Trai Turner is a free agent, and the Steelers should look to get younger at the position. This is another area where you can see both free agency and the draft being viable avenues of bringing in new talent at guard.
Finally, a position which isn’t in the trenches! Many fans would put quarterback in the Top 5, but in this first look at the team needs I decided to go with cornerback instead. First, I don’t see the Steelers making any huge moves at the quarterback position, but I see the needs as glaring at cornerback. With Akhello Witherspoon and Joe Haden both slated to be UFAs, there is no way this team can be comfortable with the likes of Cam Sutton, James Pierre and Justin Layne heading into 2022. This position, like many others, should be addressed in free agency, or in both free agency and the NFL Draft.
Other Team Needs:
So, what are your Top 5 team needs? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 offseason.