After an end to a disappointing 2012 NFL season, one thing the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have to do is make some serious decisions about personnel. They are in the negative in a big way in terms of the salary cap, so finances are going to be at a premium. That means bringing in any big time free agents to help fill the holes on this roster is a pipe dream. So instead, the franchise will have to turn its attention toward the draft; but, just as important is making internal changes to help improve this team.
This time we will start with the offense. Some of the pieces on this unit are set. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the backbone of the franchise and will be in place from the first snap. But, the rest of the offensive depth chart is much less stable. in fact, I can see changes at every other unit for the upcoming season. Here’s my best guess as to what the offensive starters will look like opening weekend of 2013:
Running back-Jonathan Dwyer
Wide Receivers-Antonio Brown, Emanuel Sanders, Jericho Cotchery
Offensive Line-Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey
Tight End/Full Back-Heath Miller, Will Johnson
On the surface it doesn’t look like drastic changes, but when you consider the new bodies on the offensive line alone, it’s something to get both excited and nervous about. If the young players on the front line can have a productive and healthy off-season, it will make this entire offense so much more effective. The changes at running back and wide receiver, meaning the departure running back Rashard Mendenhall and wide receiver Mike Wallace, are strictly fiscal, but those are the hard decisions that must be made. In the final analysis, if the Steelers could get 16 starts out of this starting 11/12, it would almost certainly mean this team would be much better than their 8-8 campaign of 2012.