Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers make something out of nothing throughout this 2013 season was special at times and frustrating at others. However, the 6-2 finish in their last eight games has Steelers fans across the globe hopeful and clamoring for more football as they watched their favorite football team narrowly miss the playoffs for the second straight year.
As hope abounds for Pittsburgh fans, I can’t help but wonder if the Steelers rebounding midway through the season and missing the playoffs might have been the worst thing that could have happened to this team from an organizational standpoint. Before being accused of blasphemy among Steelers fans, understand that there is some logic behind such a strange and unconventional thought process.
Sitting at 2-6 at the halfway point of the season, the Steelers would have finished the season around 4-12, 5-11, or even 6-10 if the they would have held this trend. That would have been the worst finish since the 2003 season that saw the Steelers be awarded Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 draft.
If they would have finished at the above records, they would be staring at a top-10 draft pick and the ability to flex that in any way possible. They could trade that pick to maximize later picks in the draft, or take a high-profile player in a spot of need that could make an immediate difference at the NFL level.
If the Steelers would have collapsed further down the stretch, re-signing some of their free agents wouldn’t be so costly as it might be now. Specifically, this applies to OLB Jason Worilds. Worilds’ play down the stretch earned him a lot of money, and that very well could be money that the Steelers can’t afford.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders‘ 740 yards receiving and six touchdowns will accompany him to another team next year as a free agent as he has outplayed his price tag in the steel city.
The Steelers’ success down the stretch now puts them at the 15th spot in the upcoming NFL draft and without a leg to stand on in terms of being able to jockey for any type of position within the draft. Not to say that teams might not covet that 15th pick or that the Steelers won’t try and trade up, but a top-10 pick is a lot more attractive than a 15th.
Say what you want, but the Steelers could very well have benefited from not going through the late-season charge that they did. Nonetheless, the Steelers finished 8-8 and find themselves in the middle of the draft hoping for luck to go their way and looking to possibly draft a difference-maker for 2014. After all, the Steelers not making the playoffs for a third straight season could force the Rooneys’ hands in terms of changes being made.