The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the season on a high note, finishing 9-8 after winning 7 of their last 9 games. The four-game winning streak the team experienced was certainly noteworthy, but it doesn’t expunge the team of any issues heading into the offseason.
- Will Matt Canada return as the play caller?
- What will the team do with many free agents?
- With four picks in the first two days of the 2023 NFL Draft, how will they approach this with a new General Manager (GM) and personnel department?
Many questions remain, several which weren’t listed above, with few answers at the current juncture. Nonetheless, the “experts” at ESPN gave their best shot at projecting the Steelers’ offseason, which included the team parting ways with Canada.
Take a look at what ESPN thinks of the Steelers ensuing offseason:
Biggest offseason priority: Finding consistency on offense. Yes, the offense has looked better and was a factor in the 7-2 record after the Week 9 bye. But the team has major red zone struggles (51.9% red zone percentage, outside the top 20 in the NFL) and doesn’t consistently move the football. While offensive coordinator Matt Canada has gradually improved as a play caller, it might not be enough to justify sticking with his system for a third year. Only five teams averaged fewer yards per play than the Steelers’ 5.0.
Under-the-radar offseason priority: Can the Steelers find help for the secondary? A true lockdown corner never emerged after the team declined to re-sign Joe Haden. Arthur Maulet and Cameron Sutton have solid versatility, but the team could use a true No. 1 corner to round out the group. Pittsburgh gave up 7.5 yards per passing attempt, 29th in the league. — Brooke Pryor
Will they re-sign cornerback Cameron Sutton? Yes. Sutton continues to improve and is among the top cornerbacks set to hit the market. He’ll earn a decided raise from his $4.5 million average annual value deal that he is currently playing on, but Pittsburgh has the resources to ensure Sutton — who had three picks and 15 pass breakups — sticks around at a position where it needs plenty of depth. — Yates
Draft outlook: Improving the offensive line must be a key point of emphasis, followed by finding cornerback help. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. and Georgia’s Broderick Jones are options in Round 1, while Ohio State’s Dawand Jones and North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch are Day 2 possibilities at offensive tackle. — Reid
Big prediction for the offseason: The Steelers will move on from Canada and bring in a young assistant coach who can move the offense in a more modern direction. The offense is better than standard stats indicate. It was middle-of-the-road in DVOA despite being 24th in points per game (17.7). And the Steelers were in the bottom half of the NFL in the use of motion and play-action this season. — Schatz
For many Steelers fans, if the team decides to go in a different direction from offensive coordinator Matt Canada would be the cherry on top of the team’s stellar finish to the season. This isn’t to suggest the next man in line for the job will be markedly better, but a change is what many feel the team’s offense needs.
Either way, this offseason will be a big one for the rebuilding franchise. Many would agree the team’s rebuild has been accelerated with Kenny Pickett at the helm, but they are far from a contending roster. Plenty of work remains for the black-and-gold.
Let us know what you think of ESPN’s projections in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for both free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft.