The Pittsburgh Steelers, and NFL for that matter, have officially hit the offseason. With a month before contracts officially expire, and the new league year begins, the Steelers will need to start game planning their future.
In this series we will look at every position group of the Pittsburgh Steelers and what the team will do with the players that were on the 2021 roster, and how they should rebuild the spots heading into the 2022 season!
Today we look the Steelers defensive tackles. One of the most interesting position groups on the team, yet most of the issues could be fixed in-house with the return of Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu. But will they even make it to the start of the 2022 season? And should the Steelers have a contingency plan? This and much more below.
The 2021 Roster
Cam Heyward (3-Years $17 Million)
Stephon Tuitt (1-Year $13.9 Million)
Tyson Alualu (1-Year $3.4 Million)
Isaiahh Loudermilk (3-Years $905K)
Chris Wormley (1-Year 2.9 Million)
Montravious Adams (UFA)
Henry Mondeaux (1-Year $895K)
Carlos Davis (2-Years $918K
Khalil Davis (1-Year $895K)
Daniel Archibong (1-Year 705K)
Coming into training camp it looked like business as usual for the Steelers, and the biggest question was who was going to get cut. It was looked upon as the deepest position group of the team, but that's when things went south. Stephon Tuitt was lost for the year with a knee injury and Tyson Alualu followed close behind with a broken ankle. On top of that, the development of Isaiah Buggs crashed and burned and he found himself off the team. The Steelers defensive line struggled a lot this year because of these losses.
But, there was a bright spot for the Steelers’ defensive line, namely another All-Pro season for Cam Heyward, who hit double digit sacks for the second time in his career. Heyward was one of the best defensive lineman in the game, and is carving out a nice career for himself in Pittsburgh. Chris Wormley also showed competence as a pass rusher, setting a career high in sacks, but beyond that he really struggled to defend the run. The other bright spot was the the signing of Montravious Adams off of the New Orleans Saints practice squad. He provided a little more juice than the other depth options of the Steelers defensive tackles and should have another opportunity to make the team come fall.
Should they look to add a player
The only way to answer this question is to point the finger at Stephon Tuitt. If he is able to come back and play at the level he did in 2020, you don't have to add anyone to this depth chart. Perhaps drafting another player could be in the cards, as part of a transition plan, but if Tuitt is back the Steelers can roll into 2022 with the players currently on the roster.
However, if Tuitt isn't healthy, or doesn't want to play football anymore, the Steelers must act to add a free agent. They were not good enough in 2021 without Tuitt, and the defense took a major step back without him on the roster. I would look to a veteran who can handle his own and can keep the defensive front dominant. The first name which comes to mind is Akiem Hicks. The All-Pro defensive tackle dominated football, and the Steelers on Monday Night Football, despite his advanced age. He could give the Steelers exactly what they missed without Tuitt on the field, and give Heyward a running mate inside the defensive front. The Steelers need to get better on the defensive line, and getting back a healthy Tuitt does just that, but if they lose him for good they should look for a veteran and probably a draft pick as well.
How should the group look in 2022
There are two distinct ways this position group lines up next year. The best way forward would be Heyward, Tuitt, and Alualu as the starters, with Wormley and Loudermilk as the primary backups. But if Tuitt is unable to go, the Steelers need to make a hard pivot and add a player like Hicks and couple him with a rookie is the best way forward. The Steelers just can't have a repeat of 2021 and do nothing. They need to upgrade the roster, and if Tuitt is gone they can't sit on their hands. The Steelers simply must get Tuitt back, or attempt to land someone close to his level.
But what do you think? What should the Steelers Defensive Tackle position look like at the start of the 2022 season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Check out the other position previews below: