As the entire NFL fan base braces for free agency this coming week, Steelers’ Nation is in pretty unfamiliar territory. Not having to make any cuts as cap casualties and still being well under the 2022 salary cap, it seems as if neither the fans nor the media know exactly how to respond. Usually the Pittsburgh Steelers have a way of doing things, but in this case there’s not much prior data to go off what would be the “Steelers way” in this situation.
Additionally, with a Steelers not having Ben Roethlisberger slated to be the starting quarterback going into a season for the first time in the Mike Tomlin era, how are the Steelers going to respond? Are they ultra-aggressive in free agency? Will they address the need in the draft? Will they roll with the player who has been with them over the last four seasons?
For this reason, it’s rare that a familiar free agent name doesn’t somehow get tied to the Steelers. In fact, the player doesn’t even have to be a free agent as there could only be a rumor where they may be available and many fans are ready for them to join the black and gold for 2022.
But is it really the fans’ fault?
The media certainly hasn’t been doing fans any favors when it comes to squashing crazy rumors with players going to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Specifically when it comes to quarterbacks, I don’t know if there’s a single player that could possibly be available where at least one member of the national media hasn’t tied them to the Steelers at some point.
“Oh, this guy played three snaps at quarterback his junior year of high school when the main guy went down? He’d be great for the Steelers!”
I have to admit, it’s not that bad. But it’s hard to identify the real reports this offseason. Personally, I think it’s because the fans and the media don’t know how to respond to the Steelers being in this situation where they haven’t been in the Mike Tomlin era.
So what are Steelers fans to do now? Do we plan on things being completely different? Do we think the Steelers are going to operate in the same manner?
Really all fans can do is wait. For the time being, they can continue having conversations about how Jimmy Garoppolo is either the greatest quarterback ever and the Steelers can’t consider not adding him, or that he’s terrible and injury prone and it would be the biggest mistake the franchise ever made. Fans can continue to talk about how the Steelers should follow in the footsteps of the Rams by mortgaging their hope for the future to win the Super Bowl and that’s all that matters, or how the Steelers philosophy is to compete every year, year after year, and would never do such a thing.
It’s alright to speculate. What else are fans to do for the time being? My biggest word of advice would be to watch out. Be careful of those out there who are taking the passion of the greatest fan base of the greatest franchise in professional sports and using it to their advantage. Because they don’t know how big of players the Steelers are going to be in the free agent/trade market, they will use the opportunity to get that passionate fan base to listen to what they have to say, making their advertisers very happy. This is the consequence I was referring to.
As for me, I’m just waiting to know which players are actually going to be in black and gold this year. Much like with the draft, I don’t fall in love with any player because the last thing I want to happen is for them to be wearing purple or orange on game days. I try to reserve my love for when the selection has been announced. And with the Steelers having the potential to get involved much more in free agency this year, I think I’m better off implementing the same philosophy.