Will the Pittsburgh Steelers Rebuild or Reload in 2013?

By Curt Popejoy
Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

For some NFL teams it seems that they have been trying to put together a winning formula for decades. They try and try but are unable to ever get it just right. For other franchises like the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are seemingly always competitive and able to field playoff caliber teams year after year.

But after a disappointing 8-8 season, missing the playoffs, and an off-season that appears to be headed down a rocky road, what should Steelers fans expect in 2013 from this team?

One school of thought it that this team is simply going to reload and be right back in the hunt for the AFC North. That the 8-8 season was more of an aberration than anything, and if this team is healthy, they are good enough to compete for a Super Bowl. A completely valid point of view and one I am sure is shared by a majority of Steelers fans. Add a piece or 2 on defense, get the wide receiver and running back situation settled and let those young linemen gel as a unit and this team can win the AFC North again.

On the other side of this is the thought that there needs to be a purging of the roster, clearing out money that’s been spent poorly, thinning some of the older players out, and adding young, new athletes to the roster. It wold likely mean the team would have a 2nd down year in 2013, and even possibly in 2014, before finding their way to become a true contender.

Which decision is more prudent? There’s no right answer to this. If you follow the reload philosophy, then you must be leaning heavily on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his ability to carry an inexperienced offense and an aging defense. If you are on board with the notion of a rebuild than you are counting on Roethlisberger’s career arc to be at least 5 seasons to allow for an influx of young players to develop around him.

My take: Put me down for a full reload. I can bite the bullet for 2013 if it means this team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender the following year rather than simply being a good team year after year. The AFC is getting better around this team, and I personally don’t see them being able to compete at a high level until they do a little cleansing of the roster. Roethlisberger has a lot of great years ahead of elite play ahead of him, he deserves to have a better team particularly on defense around him.

Curt covers the Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

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