Right now is the worst time of year for members of Steelers Nation, or any football fan for that matter. From February 3rd to March 11th there isn’t much to talk about in football land. So, for my inaugural FanSided article, I have decided to preview the Steelers’ 2014 offseason. The article will be broken into three parts, offense, defense/specialists, and results. I will preview all aspects of the offseason position by position.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
This may be the one position on the Steelers’ roster that won’t have any turnover during the 2014 offseason. Big Ben Roethlisberger is set as the number one on the depth chart until he retires, and Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones are viable backups. The only likely move would be giving Roethlisberger an extension so he can finish out his career in Pittsburgh. Don’t expect any changes from the 2013 roster.
Draft: No moves
Free Agency: No moves
Current Contracts: Ben Roethlisberger could be a given a three year extension to reduce his cap hit and keep him in Pittsburgh for the rest of his career.
Running back, unlike quarterback, could have significant turnover during the offseason. Le’Veon Bell is cemented in the number one spot for the foreseeable future. Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones, and Larod Stephens-Howling, however, are all free agents this year. Expect either Dwyer or Stephens-Howling to be brought back. The team will most likely look into the late rounds of the draft to fill out the positon. If Dwyer is brought back, expect the pick to be a speed back. However, if Stephens-Howling is brought back, they will likely target a power back. No matter how the offseason plays out, expect the running back position to be somewhat of a strong-suit for the Steelers’ offense in 2014.
Draft: Possible picks are James White (5th), Kapri Bibbs (5th), David Fluellen (5th-6th), Isaiah Crowell (6th-7th), or LaDarius Perkins (7th)
Free Agency: Possible targets are Da’Rell Scott (Giants), Jonathan Dwyer (Steelers), or LaRod Stephens-Howling (Steelers)
Current Contracts: No Moves
As he showed during the 2013 season, Antonio Brown has blossomed into one of the league’s elite receivers. Brown brought in 110
receptions for 1499 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also proved that he is still a threat in the return game, as he also returned a punt for a touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders finally showed some potential, but still not enough to garner a top contract. Sanders totaled 67 receptions for 740 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jerricho Cotchery, however, exceeded everybody’s expectations by becoming Ben’s safety blanket in the passing game. He took over Heath Miller’s role while Miller was hurt, and managed to reel in 10 touchdowns. Markus Wheaton was unimpressive as a rookie, only on the receiving end of 6 passes. His disappointing season could be due to injuries, which held him out of four games. Derek Moye was the Steelers’ fifth receiver and he only caught one pass, for a touchdown.
Expect the Steelers’ front office to let Sanders’ walk, as his price range will likely be to high, and resign Jericho Cotchery to a 2 or 3 year contract. I also expect Wheaton to take a big step up after his second offseason. He will play a pivotal role in the teams’ 2014 plans. The Steelers’ front office will also likely elect to draft a receiver in the third or fourth round of the draft.
Draft: Possible targets include Donte Moncrief (3rd), Jared Abbrederis (3rd), Josh Huff (3rd), Robert Herron (4th), or Ryan Grant (4th-5th)
Free Agency: Possible targets include Jacoby Ford (Raiders), Golden Tate (Seahawks), or Jerricho Cotchery (Steelers)
Current Contracts: Antonio Brown could receive a contract restructuring to reduce his cap hit
This a very tough position to predict for 2014. Some people think the team is in desperate need of an upgrade, while others don’t think is a need at all. Heath Miller should be set in stone as the starter. What’s behind him is where the issues come in. The team operated with David Paulson, Michael Palmer, and Matt Spaeth as their backups for the 2013 season. Spaeth was slowed down due to injury, and should be an adequate backup for this season, along with Paulson. Don’t expect Palmer to be back, as he is easily replaceable with a rookie. The teams’ brass will likely target an athletic tight end in the last three rounds of the draft, or sign a priority undrafted free agent.
Draft: Possible targets include Crockett Gilmore (4th-5th), Marcel Jensen (6th), Colt Lyerla (7th), or Larry Webster (7th)
Free Agency: Possible contracts include Brandon Pettigrew (Lions) or Scott Chandler (Bills)
Current Contracts: Heath Miller could receive a contract extension to reduce his cap hit and keep him in Pittsburgh for the rest of his career
At the halfway point of the 2013 season the offensive line situation seemed murky at best. The patchwork of an offensive line, however, improved drastically over the second half of the season. The offensive line only allowed one sack over the final 7 games of the season. At offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum seems to be the solution at left tackle, if he can continue to play the way he did towards the end of last season, and Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert will compete for the right tackle job in camp. Expect the team to
draft an offensive lineman in the third, fourth, or fifth round of the draft.
At guard David DeCastro lived up to his 1st round selection this past year, and appears to be a future all-pro. Opposite DeCastro is Ramon Foster. Foster isn’t somebody who’s name you hear regularly, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He is a solid starter who brings experience to a young offensive line. Cody Wallace should be brought back for a veteran minimum contract to be a versatile backup, as he can play any interior offensive line position. The only change should be the absence of Guy Whimper.
At center Maurkice Pouncey will be the starter for the foreseeable future. Fernando Velasco should be brought back at a veteran minimum rate to be a backup.
Draft: Possible targets include JaWuan James (3rd), Brandon Thomas (4th), Seantrel Henderson (4th), James Hurst (4th), or Michael Schofield (5th)
Free Agency: Possible targets include Fernando Velasco (Steelers) and Cody Wallace (Steelers)
Current Contracts: No moves
(All contract and salary information is courtesy of Spotrac. All stats are courtesy of NFL.com and ESPN)