The Steelers made the expected moves before the start of free agency extending WR Antonio Brown, placing the franchise tag on RB LeVeon Bell and resigning LB James Harrison to a two year deal. Then after passing on expensive free agents as usual they were relatively active (for them anyway) in mid-to-late March adding second tier free agents to provide depth. LB Lawrence Timmons was the biggest free agent loss. The Steelers talked with him about coming back, but ultimately would not pay as much as his hometown Dolphins. Best of luck to him except when he plays the Steelers. WR Markus Wheaton signed with the Bears and LB Jarvis Jones with the Cardinals. The Steelers were interested in bringing neither back. Last year's free agent signee OT Ryan Harris decided to retire after an injury plagued season. RB DeAngelo Williams, C Cody Wallace, DE Ricardo Mathews and S Shamarko Thomas are the only remaining unsigned unrestricted free agents. None obviously are priorities.
Next month's report will include an in depth look at the Steelers needs and possible draft targets. Players that were interviewed at the combine and/or visited Pittsburgh will be listed. A seven round mock draft with comments and other options will also be included.
QB: Talk of QB Ben Roethlisberger considering retirement have faded away as expected. Of course he isn't getting any younger. The front office (and nobody else) views QB Landry Jones as a solid backup, but not a future starter.
RB: Reports indicate that the Steelers and Bell have been working toward a long term deal to lower his cap hit this season. Resigned RB Fitzgerald Touissant and free agent aquisition RB Knile Davis are likely competing for a role as the third back. Davis' ability as a kick returner gives him a clear edge. Adding a better backup for the injury prone Bell is a clear necessity.
WR/TE: Brown needs help. The status of WR Martavis Bryant and TE Ladarius Green remain unclear. Bryant due to repeated suspensions. Green due to repeated concussions. WR Justin Hunter was signed to compete with WR Sammie Coates and WR Cobi Hamilton for the role of third receiver. None of them should be starting opposite Brown. At least TE Jesse James provides adequate insurance if Green can't get back on the field.
DEF/ST: Versatile DT Tyson Alualu was signed to provide defensive line depth, something sorely lacking last season. Resigning Harrison provides a veteran on the edge to go along with developing LB Bud Dupree. Dupree staying healthy would be a big help to the defense. LB Vince Williams is expected to step in for Timmons as a starter inside. Free agent signee CB Coty Sensabaugh should challenge aging CB William Gay and perpetually injured CB Senquez Golson for duty as the third corner.