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At the bye: Looking ahead at the Steelers’ 2024 offseason

The Steelers’ bye week is a great opportunity to take a look ahead at the future.

General Manager Omar Khan of the Pittsburgh Steelers speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Steelers didn’t play a game on Sunday, and while they take a break from the regular season, maybe we should too. Mid-season mock drafts and offseason previews can seem unnecessary, but in the middle of this two-week stretch without any Steelers football, taking a quick look ahead at the team’s not-so-distant future doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Let’s start with who on the Steelers’ roster will be a free agent following the regular season:

Information via Over the Cap.

Unrestricted free agents (four or more accrued seasons — free to sign with any team):

  • Cornerbacks Levi Wallace, James Pierre, Chandon Sullivan, Desmond King, and Elijah Riley
  • Defensive linemen Montravius Adams, Armon Watts, and Breiden Fehoko
  • Wide receivers Gunner Olszewski and Miles Boykin
  • Safety Miles Killebrew
  • Linebacker Kwon Alexander
  • Outside linebacker Markus Golden
  • Quarterback Mason Rudolph

Restricted free agents (three accrued seasons — can be tendered)

  • Running backs Anthony McFarland Jr. and Godwin Igwebuike
  • Long snapper Christian Kuntz
  • Defensive lineman Renell Wren

Exclusive rights free agents (less than three accrued seasons — can be signed at the league minimum)

  • Offensive tackle Dylan Cook
  • Tight end Rodney Williams

Poll

Of the Steelers’ upcoming unrestricted free agents, who would you prioritize keeping around the most?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Levi Wallace
    (27 votes)
  • 0%
    Chandon Sullivan
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    Montravius Adams
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    Miles Boykin
    (11 votes)
  • 18%
    Miles Killebrew
    (110 votes)
  • 63%
    Kwon Alexander
    (380 votes)
  • 5%
    Markus Golden
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    Mason Rudolph
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (let us know in the comments!)
    (7 votes)
598 votes total Vote Now

It’s clear that by locking up pass-rusher Alex Highsmith long term, the Steelers will avoid having any major free agency losses in the upcoming offseason. Still, it can be concerning seeing six members of the Steelers’ current secondary all up for new contracts in one year.

Pittsburgh is currently projected to have just over $12 million in 2024 cap space per Over the Cap, meaning it might be worth looking at a list of some of the top names that are unrestricted free agents come the 2024 offseason here. Will the players listed just be re-signed by their current teams? Could the Steelers even afford them? Who knows. But it’s fun to dream.

There are too many interesting names on the above list to include them all in a poll, so let us know in the comment section what 2024 NFL free agent you’d like to see the Steelers pursue the most.

Finally, let’s take a look at the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. It’s near-impossible to predict the draft in the week right before it, much less six months beforehand, but in the spirit of this offseason preview, let’s see what NFL Draft analysts are predicting for the Steelers in the first round:

Ian Valentino - Pro Football Network

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Xavier Worthy, wide receiver, Texas

Could Xavier Worthy be the next iteration of the “Slim Reaper”? The Pittsburgh Steelers may not currently have their long-term answer at quarterback, but loading up in the meantime can’t hurt.

Like DeVonta Smith, Worthy’s lack of mass and natural flexibility allow him to snap off routes consistently. Worthy is more impressive after the catch than expected, and he’s shown the ability to win from the slot and outside against all coverage variations.

Chris Trapasso - CBS Sports

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Barrett Carter, linebacker, Clemson

The defense has carried Pittsburgh early in 2023, but the Steelers continue to build that side of the ball when they see Carter fall into their laps here.

Luke Easterling - Sports Illustrated

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Barrett Carter, linebacker, Clemson

The Steelers have a pair of serviceable starters at linebacker, but they need a true difference-maker who can make plays on all three downs. Carter has the range, athleticism, and physicality to defend the run, make plays in coverage, and even get after the quarterback on the blitz.

Jason McIntyre - Fox Sports

21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Riley Leonard, quarterback, Duke

I’m not totally done with Kenny Pickett yet — he’ll probably get a chance next season if the inept offensive coordinator is replaced. Leonard, a 6-foot-4 kid from Alaska who probably will remind too many people of Daniel Jones, was off to a hot start before a high ankle sprain sidelined him. He might return to school in an effort to bolster his draft stock, or he could just roll some of the Clemson and Northwestern footage where he looked like an NFL QB.

Justin Melo - The Draft Network

12. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kool-Aid McKinstry cornerback, Alabama

Levi Wallace is a pending free agent and Patrick Peterson isn’t a lock to return for the 2024 campaign. General manager Omar Khan must continue rebuilding the secondary. Pairing Joey Porter Jr. with Kool-Aid McKinstry would give the Steelers an ascending one-two punch at cornerback.

Poll

Which Steelers’ first-round mock draft is the best?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Valentino: Wide receiver Xavier Worthy
    (12 votes)
  • 22%
    Trapasso/Easterling: Linebacker Barrett Carter
    (79 votes)
  • 3%
    McIntyre: Quarterback Riley Leonard
    (14 votes)
  • 62%
    Melo: Cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry
    (222 votes)
  • 8%
    Other (let us know in the comments!)
    (31 votes)
358 votes total Vote Now

There’s still plenty of the 2023 regular season left, meaning that the Steelers’ 2024 offseason is anything but predictable. But it can still be fun to take a quick look at what Pittsburgh’s roster may look like next season. Feel free to put all of your hot takes about the Steelers’ future in the comments.

As for the present, the Steelers will travel to SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Rams on October 22.