The most surefire way to build a true Super Bowl contender is build a strong roster and then add a quarterback on a rookie contract. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a real chance to reload their roster similarly to the New England Patriots last year in free agency and add their quarterback of the future to build around. Loaded with $28 Million in cap space and some obvious holes to fill, let’s look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they should target in free agency to build themselves into bona fide contenders. Who are the top Pittsburgh Steelers free agency targets?
Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Free Agency Targets
Outside of Trai Turner, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line was atrocious. Ben Roethlisberger got the ball out faster than anyone in the NFL and he still hit the turf 38 times. If the Steelers do want to pick up a quarterback in this year’s draft, they’ll need to protect him. Joe Burrow is the rare case of a player overcoming subpar offensive line play, nothing kills a promising career faster than running for your life every drop back. Just ask David Carr or Tim Couch.
Terron Armstead has a strong case for the best tackle in football. It wouldn’t be cheap, but burning a first-rounder on a quarterback isn’t either. Why not commit to protecting whoever is taking snaps for you in 2022 and give Najee Harris a little daylight as well? The offensive line is the Steeler’s biggest need and it’s not even close, I’d go all-in on repairing the trenches.
Do you know what’s fun? When the Steelers don the steel curtain. While a Jack Lambert is no longer necessary to anchor a top defense, there’s still something special about a high-level linebacker rocking the black and gold. De’Vondre Campbell helped fix the maligned Packers run defense and would wreak havoc behind Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormley, and T.J. Watt. Opposing offenses would have their hands full trying to clear a path against this defensive unit.
Other Options: Foyesade Oluokun, Leighton Vander Esch. Both players thrive when they can fly after the ball untouched. This Steelers defensive line is perfect for clogging up linemen and letting the linebackers go to work.
If the Steelers opt for a cheaper option at linebacker it wouldn’t hurt to go all-in at cornerback for the defense. Free agency is the most expensive way to go about getting a cornerback, but Pittsburgh has seen firsthand what adding an all-pro defensive back can do for your team when Minkah Fitzpatrick helped turn them into the league’s top unit a few seasons ago.
Both Fitzpatrick and J.C. Jackson are bona fide playmakers and pairing them together would create more turnovers than a bakery. The Steelers only stable option at cornerback the last couple of seasons has been the aging Joe Haden (who’s now headed to free agency). Much like the offensive line, going all-in here while you have cap space would bring some much-needed stability to the unit.
Other Options: Carlton Davis, Stephon Gilmore. Both players have experience playing in diverse defensive schemes. Davis would be a great option for years to come, Gilmore is a short-term solution that you may be able to get at a good value.
I fully expect the Steelers to find an all-pro receiver between the 3rd and 6th round of the draft, because that’s what the Steelers do. However, like cornerback, most of their receiving room is up for free agency. They don’t need a big splash here cause they already have Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool but some depth is required. Michael Gallup is a versatile receiver you can line up inside or out and shouldn’t come with too high of a price tag.
If you’re going to be bringing in a young quarterback you should get him a best friend. A good center is one of the more undervalued positions in football. Nothing makes a quarterback’s life easier than having a guy who can help set your protection.
If Pittsburgh is willing to drop the bag for Ryan Jensen they’ll get a fiery competitor who will set the tone for their entire offensive line. He’s not perfect in pass protection but his aggression and run blocking make lining up across from him hell throughout a game.
Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agency Outlook
Steeler’s roster has a ton of talent so I don’t expect the terrible towels to be stuck in a long rebuild process. Even though they missed out on Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson they’re still one of the best-run organizations in the league and I expect whoever they bring in a quarterback will have a great chance at success.
Their defensive line and receivers are always amongst the best in the league so their floor is higher than most teams even without a quarterback. It would be hard for whoever they bring in to have a worse arm than Big Ben last season so any level of competency should get the Steelers back into the playoffs.
If they want to contend for a Super Bowl in the next couple of seasons I would start rebuilding the o-line sooner rather than later. Team success starts up front and if they get some of the top guys brought in to keep their shiny new toy upright I’d expect a Patriots-level bounce back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have cap space, can create more, and their weaknesses are obvious, which should make for an easy game plan come free agency.