Pittsburgh Steelers February Scouting Report
The Steelers season ended meekly in the AFC Championship game where they were dominated by the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots by the score of 36-17. The defense has traditionally performed poorly against QB Tom Brady and the absence of TE Rob Gronkowski made no difference. Most of the early off season news has centered around the negotiations to extend WR Antonio Brown and sign unrestricted free agent to be RB LeVeon Bell. The Steelers were awarded a third round compensatory pick for losing OT Kelvin Beachum last off season. Beachum has already been waived by the Jaguars after disappointing in his return from a torn ACL. The Steelers currently have approximately $30 million to work with under the cap.
QB: There doesn't yet seem to be any hurry to find an eventual successor for QB Ben Roethlisberger. Backup QB Landry Jones is an unrestricted free agent. Personally I wish a better option would be added to replace him. Apparently the front office believes that while Jones is not the quarterback of the future he is a solid backup. They reportedly want him back.
RB: Both Bell and RB DeAngelo Williams are unrestricted free agents. Bell at the least should be franchise tagged after his breakout season. A long term deal will undoubtedly be the goal for both Bell and the front office. Former Bills RB Karlos Williams was signed to a reserved/future contract despite his myriad off the field issues. He is the younger brother of ILB Vince Williams so maybe being around his older brother can help him off the field. The backs and Roethlisberger will be bolstered by an offensive line should return intact with the exception of backup free agent C Cody Wallace.
WR/TE: There was some rumblings especially from Post Gazette columnist Ron Cook that Brown sulked when not targeted enough and didn't always give all out effort. Cook's conclusion was that Brown should be traded, not extended. The front office and ownership seems to completely disagree. Owner Art Rooney II is on record as stating the goal is to make Brown a Steeler for his entire career. Brown is officially not a free agent with one more year on his deal, but an extension is expected. There certainly doesn't seem to be a way to replace his production at least in the short term. Suspended WR Martavis Bryant remains in limbo. Disappointing unrestricted free agent WR Markus Wheaton is unlikely to be back.WR Sammie Coates had his season ruined by a broken thumb and fingers. Hopefully he can rebound. The career of TE Ladarius Green appears to be in jeopardy after a late season concussion. He has still reportedly not been cleared. TE Jesse James came on in the playoffs and provides a solid insurance policy. Exclusive rights free agents WR Cobi Hamilton and TE Xavier Grimble were both resigned.
DEF: For a second year in a row the decision to trade a day three pick for a defensive back did not work out. CB Brandon Boykin acquired in 2015 from the Eagles to provide depth got only limited playing time and was not back in 2016. CB Justin Gilbert has already been released after being picked up for a 2018 sixth rounder from the Browns last August. Former first rounder Gilbert played almost exclusively on special teams and failed to make an impact. LB Lawrence Timmons and LB James Harrison are the biggest name free agents. Harrison has stated he wants to play another season and is highly unlikely to suit up for anyone except the Steelers. He should be back. LB Lawrence Timmons has also stated he wants to remain. The final price tag will be the deciding factor. The Steelers will reportedly not pursue free agent LB Jarvis Jones. The former first round pick was a huge disappointment especially as a pass rusher. Backups S Shamarko Thomas and DE Ricardo Mathews are also free agents. Backups S Jordan Dangerfield, ILB Steven Johnson and OLB Anthony Chickillo have already been resigned.
K/ST: Expect continuity among the specialists barring the unforeseen. PK Chris Boswell and LS Greg Warren were both resigned to one year contracts. P Jordan Berry remains under contract. Anyone else brought in will be more to provide help in camp than to be real competition.
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