The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the thick of their offseason preparation, and with the Senior Bowl and other college All-Star games now in the books, it is time to start looking at what lies ahead for the black-and-gold.
Sure, there is the NFL Scouting Combine, but the big event which is next on the calendar is the two-day legal tampering period beginning on March 13th, with the start of the new league year officially starting on March 15th.
While fans love to look at who is available on the open market from other teams, the first task for Omar Khan and Andy Weidl will be to assess the Steelers’ own free agents and whether or not they’ll be retained or allowed to test the open market.
The Steelers don’t possess a lot of salary cap space, and they certainly can create some, but they’ll have to use their money wisely. Below I give my predictions on whether these players will stay or leave and a reason why. This isn’t what I personally want, but how I see the Steelers handling the situation.
Let’s get started...
Enough is enough for Rudolph. After his one-year deal last year had him as QB3, the quarterback is looking for a fresh start, and the Steelers will absolutely give him that option.
The Steelers absolutely would be on board with Gentry returning, but it would have to be at the right price. Barring him not garnering any attention on the open market, I don’t see Gentry returning in 2023.
Believe it or not, I’d keep Snell as the RB3 on the depth chart and a quality special teams player, but I’d understand if he gets a better opportunity on the open market. I think he’ll get that, and so I don’t see him returning.
The Steelers value special teams, and Boykin was tremendous in this role in 2022. Throw in the fact the Steelers could be in need of wide receivers and I think they give Boykin a nice “prove it” deal and give him an opportunity.
As I said above with Boykin, the Steelers value special teams. They also value the family aspect of the team. With T.J. staying in Pittsburgh for a long time, I’d expect his brother to get a second contract with the team. With Connor Heyward filling the void of Zach Gentry, there should be room for Watt as a fullback and special teams ace. Hopefully the contract isn’t as steep as his previous deal.
The Steelers brought in Davis before the start of the 2022 regular season, and he hardly played last season. Unless they saw something in him which is worth keeping around, I don’t see him being retained.
Scott did provide value as the extra offensive lineman in the jumbo packages the Steelers ran, but I don’t foresee him being brought back. If he goes on the open market and doesn’t sign with anyone, maybe they bring him back closer to training camp. Otherwise, I see him being allowed to test the open market.
As much as I want to see the Steelers keep Ogunjobi, I don’t think they’ll be able to afford him. Or, not willing to pay him what he is demanding. I could be wrong, but I think Ogunjobi gets the long term deal he’s been searching for on the open market.
I do see Sutton hitting the open market for the first time in his career, he signed before free agency two years ago, but I think the Steelers find a way to bring him back. Sutton is a versatile piece of the puzzle, and barring him getting a massive deal from another team, I think he’ll be back.
Spillane reminds me of Tyler Matakevich, in terms of him preparing for free agency. Steelers fans were stunned when Matakevich got the deal he received from the Buffalo Bills. I see a team making that type of deal to Spillane and he wisely takes it.
Everyone wants Tremaine Edmunds on the Steelers. Do you think he’ll come to Pittsburgh if Terrell isn’t on the roster? I don’t. Plus, Edmunds played well in 2022. I think he’ll be back.
With the Steelers retaining Edmunds, with my predictions, I don’t see the team being able to keep Kazee. If the Steelers can’t keep Edmunds, this might change, but according to this prediction exercise, Kazee finds a new home next year.
Like Rudolph, this is a clean break for Devin Bush. He wants to leave, and the Steelers likely view them moving up to get him in 2019 as a colossal mistake. I’d be stunned if he returns.
I have Alualu of leaving, but I think he’ll actually retire from football. Either way, I don’t see Alualu back on the roster despite the reason.
When the Steelers acquired Reed before rosters were trimmed to 53 players, it seemed like a good fit. While the fit wasn’t horrible, the production never showed up. I don’t see Reed returning in 2023.
You feel horrible for players who suffer serious injuries in the waning weeks of a contract season. That’s exactly what happened with Wormley, and it will likely result in him being a free agent for a while.
If the Steelers bring back Allen, it has to be at a dirt cheap deal. Allen got paid more than Terrell Edmunds last season, and didn’t prove he was more valuable. Allen could be back, but I don’t see him as a priority for the team this offseason.
Joseph didn’t get to show anything in 2022 due to injury, and he’ll be looking for a new home to prove his worth in 2023.
When you look at the totals, you might be shocked that I am only predicting the Steelers keep four of their many free agents. Seems like a low number, but I also believe we over-value the team’s own free agents. The Steelers don’t have as much cap space as people think, and in that regard if they want to make out outside additions, they’ll need to be strict with who they retain.
With that said, if you disagree, which I’m sure many will, let me know who you would keep or let go in the comment section below!
For more on this topic, check out the latest “Let’s Ride” podcast where I dive head-first into this topic, and more! Listen in the player below: