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The Steelers could get more than they bargained for in 2022

The Steelers don't always get what they paid for, sometimes they get even more.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We have all heard the old adage "You get what you pay for."

Usually that statement is reserved for some negative connotation, like after you have received subpar quality or service because you were trying to save a buck. In these incidences, you often end up paying more in the long run.

Many individuals who tend to lean to this way of thinking are often referred to as being cheapskates, penny pinchers, or low ballers. None of these terms are necessarily flattering or complimentary.

However, I would argue that there is nothing wrong with a individual or business being smart with their money. The Pittsburgh Steelers fit that description.

The Steelers have a reputation of being a frugal franchise. Some of that rapport has been hard-earned and well deserved, but to some degree the Steelers have fallen victim to hyperbole.

For instance, the Steelers as an organization have been pressing hard against the NFL salary cap ceiling for years, which is hardly the behavior of a franchise that invokes images of a cluster of moths fluttering out of a infrequently opened wallet. It’s not only because they have been paying a franchise quarterback for the past 18 seasons, but because they have been blessed to pay some of the best players at their positions top dollar over that same period. I say blessed because teams that lack elite talent don't have that problem. The Steelers are a franchise that takes care of their talent financially, especially those that display loyalty, and are capable of comprehending the value of an unmatched culture.

The Steelers found themselves in unfamiliar territory to begin the 2022 offseason; without a franchise quarterback, and the corresponding contract that inevitably comes with them, for the first time in many a moon. The Steelers did an admirable job of navigating their newfound financial windfall to it's fullest.

For starters, the Steelers made standout free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick the highest paid player in the NFL at his position, one season after doing the same for reigning DPOY T.J. Watt last year. Now the Steelers will field the most expensive starting defense in the NFL in 2022.

So obviously, it is paramount that the Steelers get what they paid for with the defense. If the Steelers have a top 5 defense this season, which will require a drastically improved run defense to achieve, then the investment will be worth every penny. On the flip side, when it comes to the investment made in the offensive line, the Steelers can only hope they get more than they paid for.

According to recent reports, the Steelers are projected to have the cheapest offensive line in the NFL in 2022, coming in at $23.7 million. This seems shockingly low, but at second glance, makes total sense.

The Steelers projected offensive line is a oxymoron of sorts; incredibly young, but not terribly inexperienced. Let's take a closer look for some additional clarity.

James Daniels was arguably the most talented young interior offensive lineman available in free agency, and could easily turn out to be the best value as well. It's amazing that Daniels, a four-year starter with the Chicago Bears who's career is ascending, is still only 24 years old. He won't turn 25 till mid September. He was penciled in as starting right guard before the ink even had a chance to dry on his contract. I will in no way try to mince words here: great value and a huge upgrade.

The Steelers made another underrated value signing in the young and versatile Mason Cole. Cole is a 26-year-old interior lineman with starting experience for the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. He is a solid, if not spectacular, performer. Cole is more junkyard dog than purebred, more cerebral tactician than physical specimen. His best attributes may very well be that he is reliable, consistent, and tenacious. All attributes that were in short supply for the interior of the Steelers offensive line last season.

I envision Cole entering training camp as the starting center, at least until someone proves capable of knocking him off the mantle, thus making Cole one of the best value interior swing men in the business once again.

The focal points of my offseason articles have been about finding hidden value, acquiring talent where the Steelers were lacking, and getting younger players who can grow with the franchise in the process. Both Daniels and Cole perfectly fit those criteria.

The Steelers now possess the components to field a young offensive line loaded with talented potential. As mentioned in the article, all of the available talent at least has some starting experience in the NFL, a statement that could not be made about the 2021 starting offensive line.

Maybe it's just my black-and-gold glasses distorting my outlook, but at first glance it sure looks like the Steelers have the potential to field a markedly improved offensive line in 2022. Of course, all the potential in the world means nothing without execution, but you have to start somewhere. Young, talented, and experienced sounds like a great launching point.

If the Steelers can turn all that potential into production, then that $23.7 million number that many are calling frugal may just represent the best overall value in the entire NFL.

If so, the Rooneys could showcase the Steelers offensive line on an episode of Fixer Upper to Fabulous, focusing on each small step in building the foundation of a superior offensive line. All of Steelers Nation would tune in for that one.