In 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the biggest letdowns in the NFL. Before the season, this was a team that had super bowl dreams. They would proceed to finish .500 and miss the playoffs for the second straight year. As to why they missed out, a season-ending injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in week two was the biggest culprit. However the past is the past, and in the NFL, teams are always looking ahead. Despite a down year, the Steelers have many things to be excited about in 2020. Mainly that their defense was among the elite units in the NFL last year. Here we will look at the Steelers 2020 offseason agenda.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Offseason Agenda
Bring Back Bud Dupree
Before last season, Bud Dupree had been labeled as a “bust” by many, and for good reason. The 2015 first-round pick underperformed in his first four seasons playing starting snaps. But in 2019, everything seemed to click. Dupree was part of the most fierce pass rush units in the league alongside T.J. Watt. Dupree finished with 11.5 sacks and forced four fumbles. But now Pittsburgh finds themselves in a predicament. With no picks in round one, three, or five, the options to replace Dupree are slim. That’s why the Steelers should try and bring back Dupree. Watt will be under his rookie contract for two more seasons, so financial flexibility will be tight. But should Dupree leave, all the focus goes on blocking Watt.
With nose tackle Javon Hargrave needing to be re-signed as well, the likelihood is only one of the two will return to Pittsburgh. With Dupree’s market expected to be big, re-signing him seems unlikely. But the Steelers should still put their best foot forward.
Draft a QB
I will admit that I initially thought Mason Rudolph was going to lead the Steelers to the playoffs last year. But after a 2-4 start, I realized I was wrong. Granted, it is still possible Rudolph turns things around after a poor season. After all, he’s only been in the league two seasons. That said, in the NFL there’s no harm in drafting as many quarterbacks as it takes to find someone who sticks. In this offseason agenda, the Steelers should wait until the later rounds in the draft to take a swing. Depending on how the draft shapes up, someone like Shea Patterson could still be available in the second half of the draft. There’s a reason why they should wait this long. This is because the team has bigger needs with their picks in rounds two and four that we will address next.
Add Skill Position Help
It’s no secret that the Achilles heel for this team last year was their offense. After years of dominating opposing teams with their offense, the Steelers finished in the back of the pack in every category. They finished 27th in points per game, 30th in yards per game, and 31st in passing yards per game. Even with Roethlisberger back in 2020, the Steelers need help at running back, wide receiver, and tight end. For example, Vance McDonald will always be remembered for his highlight on Monday Night Football. But he’s been highly inconsistent during his tenure in Pittsburgh, and it’s time to move on. Running back James Conner shouldn’t be written off after one injury barred year, but getting depth behind him would be a good idea. Finally, in a potentially historic draft class at Wide Receiver, it would be foolish not to draft one.
One of the big questions that will need to be answered at the start of the season is JuJu Smith-Schuster. After disappointing as a number one target in his first attempt, he will have a shot at redemption. By this time next year, we will have an idea of where the ceiling is for Smith-Schuster.
What About Free Agency?
So far in this article, the draft has been the only method discussed for adding new players. This is because Pittsburgh has the second least cap space in the league. There are always ways to make cap room, however, like cutting veterans or re-working contracts. If anyone should be trusted to make things work, it’s general manager Kevin Colbert. Over the course of his tenure, Pittsburgh has been one of the most consistently successful teams. But the other reason the draft has been brought up instead of free agency is that the Steelers are usually fairly quiet in free agency. Last offseason, they signed Steven Nelson to a three-year deal and it paid off for them. But historically, the Steelers don’t make big splashes during the free agency period.
The Future Still Looks Bright
Whether the Steelers follow this offseason agenda or not, they have a solid foundation for 2020, led by a returning Roethlisberger and the majority of their defense returning. Leadership in the organization has remained stable for a long time now, and that continuity goes a long way. On February 21st, the NFL will announce compensatory picks for the draft. So depending on what the NFL announces, the Steelers could add an extra draft pick to their name. The thought of both the defense and offense playing at an elite unit together is something Steelers fans have been dreaming of for the last decade. If this can happen, the ceiling for Pittsburgh is as high as anybody.
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