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The Steelers prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft with the safety position being “in development”

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an issue at safety, and how they fill it should be considered “to be determined”.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have quite the hole on their defensive roster currently as they prepare for the second wave of free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. The hole which I speak of is none other than the safety position.

At the onset of free agency the Steelers had a choice to make among the free agent safeties on their roster. The choice between Damontae Kazee and Terrell Edmunds saw Kazee be rewarded with a two-year contract. Edmunds eventually signed a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

During the NFL league meetings this past week, Mike Tomlin was asked about the state of the safety position. Let’s just say his response was one which left a lot to be desired for the fan base.

“It’s in development,” Tomlin said of safety. “The free agency process is still ongoing, and our draft prep is going well. And so, we’re going to add to that bunch, certainly. By what means is to be determined, but there’s some credible candidates out there in both pools.”

While Tomlin gives his typical stock answers to the media, one player in particular was talked about as showing some position flexibility which could help the safety position. That player would be newly acquired cornerback Patrick Peterson.

“He’s versatile. He is not only in terms of his talents, but his intellect and we’re not going to be bashful about moving him around,” Tomlin said about Peterson. “He and I have already had that discussion. I think he’s really excited about the prospects of that.”

During Peterson’s introductory press conference, he spoke about how he wasn’t just willing to move around, but had asked coaches in the past to let him show off his versatility. Steelers fans know all about this type of versatility with players like Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson, although Woodson transitioned to safety after leaving Pittsburgh. Players have extended their careers by making moves like the one Tomlin is discussing.

“Going into Year 13, I always used to beg my coaches, like, ‘Man, just put me other places,’” Peterson told media. “Because I always felt like if you’re able to have a quality athlete, you just don’t want to limit him into one thing. You want to make it hard on the quarterback. You want to make it as hard as possible on the quarterback throughout downs. So, if you know a guy is going to be lined up in a certain spot every single possession, he’s going to know how to avoid that guy.”

Entering the free agency period the Steelers had two safeties who were looking for new contracts with the team. Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee. The Steelers signed Kazee to a two-year deal, and Edmunds accepted a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Is Kazee capable of playing both safety roles?

“Strong and free are kind of misnomers these days,” Tomlin said. “Most guys play right and left. Those that don’t, they’re somewhat interchangeable based on schematics or calls. I just think that’s where we are. Minkah patrols the middle of the field as a home base, and we work off of that.”

Fitzpatric is the mainstay in the team’s secondary, but he does need to have help in regards to being the playmaker everyone expects to see on game days. Tomlin recognizes this, and knows it’s the coaches’ jobs to put him in a position to succeed.

“As long as he’s a part of us, it’s our job to put him in position to be impactful, to wreak havoc, to do the things that he’s blessed to have the talents to do,” Tomlin said about moving Fitzpatrick around. “He’s a smart guy, and those that work with them are versatile. That allows us an opportunity to do those things. I can’t imagine that decreasing.”

The Steelers safety position remains in flux with the 2023 NFL Draft just weeks away, and how they plan to address the position is anyone’s guess. Maybe they have a plan, but that plan remains unseen at this moment.

This was the main talking point in the latest Steel City Insider podcast with beat writer Jim Wexell. Check out the latest show in the player below: