clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Keeping continuity in the defensive backfield is key for the Steelers

They don't have to bring every face back, but the Steelers can't let all of their DB’s walk.

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be busy bees in the coming weeks. With free agency mere hours away the news of player movement will be coming in hot. One of the position groups the Pittsburgh Steelers should be, and are rumored to be, interested in are the positions of the defensive back field. This does in fact make a lot of sense, as the Steelers have three of their four 2021 starters also hitting the free agent market. Both starting corners, Ahkello Witherspoon and Joe Haden, are unrestricted free agents as well as starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds. Clearly, the Steelers are going to have to make some moves in the secondary.

One of the important things to keep in mind is how continuity breeds chemistry, especially in the free roaming nature of the defensive backfield. There has to be a sense of belief in your teammates that they will be where you expect them to be on any given play. That sense is only developed after many repetitions playing together. To say the least, it is not easy to develop this sense of chemistry, even at the NFL level. Losing three of your starters would greatly impact this defense/team.

Just think how long it took Ahkello Witherspoon to get his feet under him in the Pittsburgh defense. It was weeks before he got off the list of healthy scratches on game day and actually made an impact. If the Steelers are forced to bring in starters at strong safety, boundary corner, and field side corner, they will all be rushed into the scheme and probably struggle for the first 3/4 of the season. Inevitably, Steelers fans would complain these players are just untalented, but the fact remains they need to get comfortable in the scheme before their talent can really shine through.

In my ideal offseason for the Steelers, the way they look after their defensive back field goes as follows. The organization should re-sign Terrell Edmunds and one of their free agent starting corners. Because Ahkello Witherspoon has youth and an ability to still grow in this league, it would make more sense for the youngster to be brought back. I also believe the Steelers should sign an unrestricted free agent to start opposite of Witherspoon. Regardless of who that name is, getting another body in the building will make the Steelers better as well as allow them to not have to draft someone with their first or second pick at the position.

With that being said, the Steelers should use a draft pick at the cornerback position. This way the team has someone they can develop and potentially replace Cameron Sutton in the slot role. If all of these moves come to fruition, the Steelers will retain their chemistry, as well as boost talent, depth, and overall ability within this secondary.

But what do you think? How many of the Steelers defensive backs must they keep on the roster for 2022? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.