5 Offseason Needs For Pittsburgh Steelers
5 Offseason Needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers
With the Super Bowl officially over and the Seattle Seahawks crowned as the best team in the NFL, it is officially time to start analyzing offseason needs for all 32 teams. In terms of the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are a team in flux. The old players are on their way out, with question marks awaiting in their stead. Nonetheless, to say that the Steelers don't have many needs this offseason is far from the truth.
The Steelers' rally in the second half of the season to finish .500 with an 8-8 record had fans wondering "what if?" during the Super Bowl, but that is a far cry from reality. There are a lot of holes on the Steelers' roster, and they must be filled if the team expects to contend not only for an AFC North crown next year, but for a seventh Vince Lombardi trophy.
The glaring holes on the Steelers' roster reside on the defensive side of the football, but that isn't to say that there aren't positions of need on the offensive side. The defense is much older, slower and has shown the wear of long seasons with injuries and weak positional play. The offense is a unit that is younger, more athletic and can rely on the good mix of veteran leadership and youth to spring them forward next season with only minimal changes made.
The Steelers could be a tough team to gauge as we approach the draft, offseason workouts and training camp. They could be a dark horse amongst a fairly weak AFC, and they could also be amongst the other mediocre teams in the conference and miss the playoffs for an astounding third year in a row. Time will tell what the future holds for the Steelers, but if these offseason needs aren't met, then it could be another long season for Steelers fans across the globe.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+
5. Running Back
2013 looked like it was going to be the 'Year of the Running Back' in Pittsburgh, but the team was depleted in the position by season's end. Lets get one thing clear: Bell is the real deal. But what about after that? If they could retain Jonathan Dwyer, it would alleviate some of the issues that the team is facing.
However, if Dwyer finds greener pastures with more playing time, what could the team do? I believe the Steelers will try and retain one of their current running backs, while the draft is where the Steelers should look for the future back that will make up the backfield along with Bell for years to come. If the Steelers are unable to bring back one of the current backs on their team, then they might be looking at potential free agents come fall.
4. Outside Linebacker
Some believe that the Steelers should let the underperforming LaMarr Woodley go and try and re-sign Jason Worilds. That sounds great on paper, but there's more than just letting a player go in the salary cap era. In my opinion, the Steelers will wait until June 1 to officially release Woodley. Before that happens, they will have to try and attempt to re-sign Worilds before free agency. If they are unable to re-sign Worilds, then you can fully expect Woodley to be back in a Steelers uniform next season.
As for the draft, if there is a playmaking linebacker available with the 15th selection, it might not be a bad choice to take someone that can alter the game with their pass rush -- though let's keep in mind that was the same thinking behind selecting Jones. We all saw how that turned out.
3. Defensive Line
The Steelers could be seeing two starters leaving for other teams or retirement, so what should they do to patch the defensive line? First, let Keisel walk. If he wants to play elsewhere, that's fine, but there is no need to re-sign another aging defender to an already ancient defense. Second, choose between Hood and Al Woods to play alongside Cam Heyward. Heyward was the bright spot of the defense this season and solidifies one side of the defensive line, but the team will have to choose between their former first-rounder and Woods as to who they want to round out the defensive line.
A lot has been talked about the Steelers possibly drafting a nose tackle or a defensive linemen in the first round. I am not a proponent of that decision as I feel that the Steelers have other glaring needs in terms of playmakers and not spending their 15th overall pick on a linemen again.
The safety position is a glaring weakness in a defense that used to have the two best safeties in the NFL, so how do the Steelers go about addressing this need? The smart decision would be to re-sign Will Allen to play alongside Troy Polamalu. Keeping Allen in Pittsburgh would help the defense in a number of ways. The Steelers would have a veteran that knows the system along side Polamalu, and this would allow Shamarko Thomas to grow within the defense for another season.
If the Steelers select a safety, look for them to take one high in the draft as a potential replacement for Polamalu when his contract expires after next season.
1. Wide Receiver
What will the Steelers do to address the need of wide receivers with free agency looming? I believe they will re-sign Jerricho Cotchery to be their no. 3 receiver and slot receiver. Cotchery has stated that he loves Pittsburgh, and especially loves playing with Ben Roethlisberger. After re-signing Cotchery, the Steelers will expect 2013 third-round draft pick Markus Wheaton to step up and replace Sanders on the opposite flank of Brown.
If the Steelers decide to draft a wide receiver, they would be smart to try and select a big-play receiver with the ability to stretch the field.