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Step-by-step instructions to a successful Steelers offseason

What is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful offseason? It isn’t complicated...

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to face a critical juncture in the organization’s history as they head into the NFL offseason. Whether you are talking about NFL Free Agency or the 2023 NFL Draft, it all encompasses what makes up the offseason.

For Omar Khan and Andy Weidl, they will have their work cut out for them as they prepare for their first genuine offseason together as the heart of the Steelers’ talent acquisition team.

So, what needs to happen for the Steelers to have a successful offseason? That’s debatable, but I’ve boiled it down to three easy steps. Be sure to know just following these steps doesn’t necessarily equate to success, but can set up an organization for future success.

Let’s get to it...

Step 1 - Create a checklist of team needs

The first thing the Steelers will have to do, and something fans absolutely do, is to create a list of team needs. Prioritizing is important, but just identifying positions which need to be addressed in the offseason. For the 2023 Steelers, the following positions should find their way on the list:

  • Safety
  • Offensive Line
  • Inside Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Line

How the team prioritizes them is up for debate, but adding to these positions will be the ever important first step.

Step 2 - Check all positions off the list BEFORE the NFL Draft

The second step is the team then “checking off” those above positions before the draft. They don’t have to be high-profile signings, but ways to fill the needs before the draft begins.

Think back to last season as an example. The team had needs, and you can see how they filled them through free agency.

QB - Mitch Trubisky
OL - Mason Cole, James Daniels
CB - Levi Wallace
ILB - Myles Jack

There were more examples, but these illustrate this step. Fill the voids on the roster, which gives you much-needed flexibility in the draft. In 2022 things didn’t go perfectly. They waited until the 11th hour in 2022, but they did re-sign safety Terrell Edmunds three days before the draft to check the box at safety.

Step 3 - Approach the draft with a Best Player Available (BPA) approach

If you are able to fill the team needs before the draft, it now gives you the flexibility and freedom to take a BPA approach, rather than drafting by position. When you consider last season, if the Steelers had not signed a safety hours before the draft it likely would have changed things significantly.

If the team went into the draft without having a safety on the roster with experience outside of Minkah Fitzpatrick, would the Steelers have had the freedom to make the selections they did the first two days? Leading up to the draft most thought the team would draft a safety, but they passed on the position throughout the 3-day process simply by re-signing one player. Even with Edmunds, some believed the position was still a position of need. Luck— or good planning— came into play when the team was able to sign Damontae Kazee shortly after the draft to secure the position even more heading into offseason workouts.

Ideally, all positions of need are filled before the team goes into the draft to give them the flexibility during the draft process.

When will you know if it was a successful offseason?

A natural follow-up question with this is when will you know if a team’s offseason was deemed a success? The answer for that, unfortunately, won’t happen until the following season. And that isn’t just talking about free agency, but also the draft.

Think back to 2022 once again. The free agent pick-ups worked out and were largely deemed a success. The draft class was scrutinized by many, but look at the players who had a significant role on the team last season:

  • Kenny Pickett
  • George Pickens
  • DeMarvin Leal
  • Connor Heyward
  • Mark Robinson
  • Jaylen Warren

When you consider the potential addition of Calvin Austin III, you can see how the draft, combined with the free agents acquired, made last offseason a success.

Will Khan be able to hit a home run in his first full offseason? That has yet to be determined, but if the organization follows these not-so-easy steps, they’ll set themselves up for success.

For more on this, and more, check out the Friday episode of the Let’s Ride podcast in the player below: