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Could the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason be going as planned?

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Believe it or not, but the Steelers 2017 offseason could be going as planned.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As I perused the internet I found myself faced with a ridiculous number of mainstream media websites giving out grades to all 32 teams for their free agency activity, or in the Pittsburgh Steelers situation, lack of activity.

Most websites gave the Steelers passing grades, with some giving B-, B, C+ and one even an A- grade.

Keeping your finger on the pulse of the Steelers’ gigantic fan base, you can almost hear the anger coming from the comments in articles like these.

“The Steelers did NOTHING!”

“While the Patriots went out and made themselves better, the Steelers got worse!”

“There is no way this team contends in 2017...”

I think you get the picture, and all of the above statements certainly have their own validity. The Steelers didn’t do hardly anything outside of re-signing their own, and they lost some players in the process.

However, the one thing I couldn’t help but realize when thinking about it in retrospect is how there is a chance this offseason is going just as the Steelers had planned.

Before jumping directly to the comment section, hear me out.

If you were to have a checklist for what the Steelers wanted to accomplish this offseason, it most likely would have looked like this:

  • Sign Antonio Brown to a long-term contract
  • Franchise tag Le’Veon Bell
  • Bring back James Harrison
  • Address the backup quarterback position
  • Sign as many of their own free agents

You can go through each of those and check each off the list, and I realize they weren’t able to keep all of their own free agents. The only free agent departure which truly stung was the loss of Lawrence Timmons, no offense to Markus Wheaton or Jarvis Jones, but don’t you think if the Steelers really wanted to keep Timmons they would have made him a deal he couldn’t refuse?

He got a big contract with the Miami Dolphins, and the Steelers didn’t feel he was worth paying that much money for where he was in his career. At the same time, there had to be a strong feeling the team wouldn’t be able to keep Timmons. While most fans will point to the team’s inability to bring in players like Dont’a Hightower or Davon House as a sign of ineptitude, again, there is a reason the team didn’t jump at a free agent prospect on the first day of free agency.

Maybe, just maybe, the team is comfortable with where they are at this point in the offseason. Maybe, they knew this was all going to take place. And maybe the team realizes the upcoming NFL Draft will be where they make their move.

Think about the holes on the team, and I’m not talking about depth position issues, every team has those. The Steelers’ offensive line is one of the best in the business, their wide receiving corps could be due a major upgrade with the potential return of Martavis Bryant, they have a franchise quarterback and the most dynamic running back in the game of football.

Defensively, they will have Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave and Cameron Heyward along the defensive front, Pro Bowler Ryan Shazier on the inside with Vince Williams, Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis at safety and Artie Burns, Ross Cockrell and William Gay at the cornerback positions.

If you have to, read those last two paragraphs again to really understand what I am talking about.

The Steelers were not big players in free agency likely because they didn’t feel they needed to be. Why overpay for a mediocre cornerback when you can find a rookie in the draft who can step in and help boost the team’s secondary? Why break the bank for an inside linebacker who struggles in coverage like Hightower, when you have a player like Vince Williams waiting in the wings?

The more I look at how this offseason has played out, the more I have the feeling this offseason is going as planned for the black and gold. You may disagree, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the Steelers are just one or two players away from being legitimate contenders in the AFC, and the NFL. Fans just need to realize those one or two players are going to come from the NFL Draft, and not in free agency. It shouldn’t come to a shock to anyone, if you pay attention to how the Steelers do business.

It is business as usual for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 2017 NFL Draft approaches, and there is a very good chance they will be back to their usual business of winning next season as well...despite not being big players in free agency.