Free Agency Not The Lone Opportunity For Improvement


Even though it should not exactly be a surprise, the Pittsburgh Steelers have no exactly bolstered their roster through outside free agency so far this year, and in fact have unquestionably been the least active teams on the market. The only signing that they have made thus far was for wide receiver Justin Hunter on what is likely a one-year veteran-minimum deal.

Their relative inactivity has led many to wonder how the Steelers are going to improve themselves over last season, even though they are rarely very active in free agency, and yet have incrementally improved for the past three seasons, finally reaching the AFC Championship game at the end of the 2016 season.

I do suspect that this hand-wringing over the need for improvement via addition in free agency stems largely from the fact that Pittsburgh was handled by the Patriots in that aforementioned game, even though the biggest issues in that game were not about discrepancies in roster talent but rather in execution errors.

Never the less, there is an answer to the question of how the Steelers will improve from last season, and it starts as always with the draft. In case you haven’t noticed, the team is in a different phase of its roster makeup in which they are able to give rookies playing time, so obviously rookie draft picks will have an opportunity to improve the team over last season.

But of course the biggest improvements over last season will come simply from within. I posed the question the other day who your leading candidate was to be the team’s most improved player from last season, and the reality is that there are a lot of legitimate options.


Six different players became full-time starters over the course of last season, including four on defense. Among them were three rookies, and it’s a common saying that a player’s greatest leap comes from his first year to his second.

The reality is that three quarters of their starting secondary last season featured players in new and expanding roles. Ross Cockrell was only a rotational player in 2015 in his first season with the team. Artie Burns earned playing time last year as a rookie despite the fact that he came into the league fairly raw. That’s their starting cornerback tandem. Do they have room to grow? Absolutely.

Add to that the fact that Sean Davis was yet another rookie, and didn’t even get to focus on safety through much of the offseason when it seemed that he would have to play in the slot, and you have another obvious target area for improvement. Stability and cohesion within the secondary as a whole will be a boon.

Turning to the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers had chronic instability at the tight end and wide receiver positions, which is why the Steelers were throwing to a couple of practice squad wide receivers in the playoffs last year. Assuming Martavis Bryant is back and Sammie Coates returns to his early 2016 form is a major upgrade to a potent offense without doing anything.

No matter what happens with Ladarius Green, the tight end group will probably be improved. It seems likely that the Steelers will draft one, and Jesse James’ extensive experience from last season should make him better in year two. He needs to make more of the clutch catches and work on his yards after the catch, but there’s a reason the team likes him.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • PompeyGoat

    Or if the glass is half empty our veterans who occupy some very key positions are all a year older…

  • Michael James

    “I do suspect that this hand-wringing over the need for improvement via addition in free agency stems largely from the fact that Pittsburgh was handled by the Patriots in that aforementioned game, even though the biggest issues in that game were not about discrepancies in roster talent but rather in execution errors.”

    Thank you Matthew! That’s 100% spot on. The Patriots game was ugly, because play-calling and execution were off. They could’ve easily gone into halftime with a lead or tie, were it not for poor redzone efficiency and drops. Bell getting injured was huge, too. In the second half their vanilla zone defense cost them. If we compare the rosters spot by spot, the Patriots aren’t really better. They just always have a plan and execute it to perfection. I hope Tomlin & Co. have finally learnt how to not play against the Patriots.
    There’s always room for improvement, but our roster is really good. If Bryant is reinstated (and stays clean) and we get a good CB and EDGE in the draft, this is the best roster in the NFL.

  • heath miller

    oh they dont want t hear about that …. i guess its the truth hurts so dont say it … but thats exactly what i thought as i read the article .. how many will the extra year help … but how many will it hurt .. and then injuries .. what if ben goes down .. season over.. stick a fork in it … what is we lose AB while he still returning a punt after 6 years that we cant find a PR or KR guy … what if bell still has problems.. they cant even decide if he needs surgery or not .. i can see this one coming .. they will decide in july that YES he needs surgery and he misses the first 8 weeks instead of doing it NOW .. just stupid how they dick around with injuris that could be taken care of in march and they wait till july … so the window is open for maybe 2-3 years before ben retires…. we have plenty of cap space…. and we are the MOST INACTIVE TEAM IN THE LEAGUE IN F/A …. i could understand that if we were using the money internally (i know we kept AB) .. but what about AV? tuitt? Bell? cant we use that money to extend them NOW ? and all i read is we are going to improve through the draft….. thats great .. but again i question the other side of that is well….doenst every team plan to improve through the draft … so the Pats win the SB .. blow us away .. they make moves to improve.. we do nothing …. but we think we are going ot improve because we will draft better than the patriots? thats as doubtful as we will beat them in the super bowl…

  • VaDave

    Got six vets on the downside? I’ll grant you Gay, and Timmons is gone. Harrison? Anybody else? I agree with the article, this is a team on the rise. BTW, FA isn’t dead until the final roster cuts at camp, and it’s a whole lot less expensive..

  • MattHat121

    While all teams have rookies who will improve next year, I agree the 2016 draft class of the Steelers is particularly likely to contribute at a high level next year.

    I think what I and other Steelers fans fear is a missed opportunity in free agency to obtain roster strength that further separates the team’s capabilities from the KC’s and OAK’s and match up better with New England. I think fans look at other off-season moves and see other teams getting better and Steelers standing pat. Relying on the draft and rookies to develop at the right pace is a good formula but there are other variables in the equation that the team is ignoring.

  • falconsaftey43

    I can guarantee the Steelers will NEVER beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl…

  • Dorian James

    Either way you look at it this team is not as good as it was last year. Until they change their free-agent philosophy we’ll be stuck in mediocrity forever

  • falconsaftey43

    Mediocrity? Perspective guys, they won two play off games and were in the AFCCG. That’s not mediocre. That’s really good. Extremely disappointing end, definitely room for and need to improved, but this was a good team last year and will be again this year.

  • Michael James

    First of all, we can’t play the Pats in the SB, they’re in the AFC.

    Second, the Pats have given up nearly their entire draft, their only pick in the first three rounds comes at the end of round three. I would really like to see the reaction of many ‘fans’ if we traded our first, second and third round pick for some players that only have one year left on their contracts. While the Pats got some new players now, we’ll get our new players via draft and they will be younger, cheaper and more talented.

    Third, Bell and Tuitt will get their extensions later this offseason. That’s why they don’t go out shopping like crazy.

    Fourth, Bell already had surgery on his groin. He will be good to go in no more than eight weeks, so he probably won’t even miss OTAs.

    Fifth, if the franchise QB of any team goes down for the season, it’s over. It’s the same with the Patriots, Packers or Steelers.

  • WreckIess

    That’s pretty much how I see it, I didn’t think they’d make much noise in FA at first and my initial reaction was correct. The talent just wasn’t there(especially not at the price they were getting) so they’re better off just waiting for the draft to find talent.

    Truth be told, they haven’t really lost much at this point and just retaining some of our own players will make the team better. An AFC Championship caliber team that will add Martavis Bryant, Cam Heyward, and more than likely Ladarius Green back with the only serious loss being Timmons is an improvement even without the draft. Then you have guys over the last few draft classes (plus Cockrell) who will take a few steps forward and that still doesn’t even take into account the rookie impact the team will get.

    If we can develop a pass rush and get other weapons to take the pressure off of Juice and AB then we’re talking about a supremely talented team.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’m surprised they haven’t done more in FA. Not signing big name guys, but their typical low level FAs. I’d have expected a few $1-3M guys, CB, ILB, DL to be added. Maybe they are still coming.

  • AndyR34

    That might have been his point!

  • heath miller

    not as long as TB and BB are there .. even if we have better players (and i really believe we may have had the better players this year) … but the coaching is worlds apart.. i mean look at hos they won without brady while he was suspended and one game they looked like they may not even have a QB to start … but even if we are close to a victory in the 4th qt we will be out coached… thats my guarantee ..

  • Michael James

    Mediocrity? I see a team that constantly improved over the last few years and was one step away from the Superbowl two months ago.
    I would like to hear the explanation why this team isn’t as good as it was last year? They only lost Timmons, that’s it. They’ll get Bryant back, one of the best receivers in the NFL when he’s on the field (and reports say he’s clean and has been training really hard). Heyward will be back. Green has said that he’ll be good to go. Dupree is on the verge of making a major leap and turning into a dominant edge rusher. The rookies from last year will only get better.
    However I turn it, I don’t see how this team should be any worse than last year.

  • falconsaftey43

    The team is MUCH better than it was at this point last year.

    Last year you were looking at Gay and Cockrell (at that point only a part time player) as your only experienced CBs. Now you’ve added Burns.

    Last year McLendon had left and McCullers or ? was your NT. Now you have Hargrave.

    Last year Will Allen was your starting SS that was a FA, this year you have Davis coming back for his 2nd year as the starter.

    The only question mark is how will Williams fair in Timmons place. You’re returning every other starter on offense and defense. They’ll draft more guys. This team is in a much better place than last year at this point.

    They were not even as close to as bad last season as everyone wants to believe. They ended the year horribly, but that was not reflective of the teams season. Just look at the first time they played the Patriots to see that the talent gap was THAT bad as it looked in the AFCCG. The team had the 5th best point differential in the league last year. They’ll be a strong playoff contender again this year.

  • falconsaftey43

    Actually….not as long as they’re both in the AFC…that was my point…

  • AndyR34

    I doubt Mitchell is improving…you mentioned Deebo, but I also doubt Foster or Ben are improving. In fact, I believe it is quite demonstrable that Ben is declining…especially with the deep ball in terms of accuracy and he is not getting any better in the red zone.

  • heath miller

    many good points .. but do we really know he had surgery … seems no one knows for sure if coats had surgery on his fingers … if bell had surgery on his groin … im not sure we know any of that …. so its kinda like when we gave up a 5th round pick for scobee ? or a 6th for justin gilbert then let him sit on the bench? kinda like that ? and of course if any franchise QB goes down the season is over.. oh well … lets say most.. sicne the pats wn 3 out of 4 w/o brady … so lets say most ..not “any” team .. Fourth,,, if we have all this money why not extend Tuitt and Bell now ?

  • WreckIess

    “what if ben goes down .. season over.. stick a fork in it” Yeah no crap. Same with every other team if their QB goes down.

    “what is we lose AB while he still returning a punt after 6 years that we cant find a PR or KR guy” Can anyone even remember the last time we have a guy get hurt retiring a kick? Him returning punts is no more dangerous than him going across the middle to catch a pass. It’s just another football play and you get your game changers out there as often as you can.

    “what if bell still has problems.. they cant even decide if he needs surgery or not” He had surgery last week. You couldn’t have googled this before you ranted about it?

    “and we are the MOST INACTIVE TEAM IN THE LEAGUE IN F/A …. i could understand that if we were using the money internally (i know we kept AB) .. but what about AV? tuitt? Bell? cant we use that money to extend them NOW ?” Because they don’t suffer from ADD and they don’t need constant news to keep themselves engaged in the offseason? There’s not a rush to get this done.

    “thats as doubtful as we will beat them in the super bowl” Last time I checked, two AFC teams can’t played each other in the Super Bowl so don’t you worry your pretty little head about that.

  • heath miller

    oh thanks for correcting me .. guess i dont know that after 40 years of watching FB .. i guess you are one of the ones that i was referring to that dont want to hear the truth .. you would rather read an entire post then pick at one obvious mistake .. keep your head int he sand … and move on .. no more replies from me .

  • Michael James

    We know for sure he had surgery, Bell even posted it on instagram.
    They don’t extend Tuitt or Bell now, because they have 4 months left and it’s not like time is running out. If you look in the past, all the big contracts were done just before training camp started (Heyward, DeCastro…).

  • heath miller

    totally agree… we are far from mediocrity … we are a very good team … very good… but we are also far away from being a SB Champ… we are as far from the SB as we are mediocrity … top 4-6 team i think .. there is just a big gap between #1 and the next 5 teams .. and i think 75% of that is coaching ..

  • WreckIess

    I guess you don’t. And one? I pretty much responded to your entire comment. How’d I nitpick at one mistake?

  • Boots

    I agree that there are a lot of players that it’s reasonable to expect to keep improving simply based on their relative youth, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I can honestly say that I didn’t expect them to go bananas signing a lot of guys, but I am of the opinion that one good CB with the ability to play man coverage could’ve given us some freedom in the draft in not having to have a rookie expected to play a big role early. That being said I am not letting my “in the moment” frustration override my long term outlook!

  • heath miller

    so bell had the surgery (for sure)? .. yet he was working out on the beach in sand yesterday ? does anyone else see a problem with that? michael can you please send me a link from SD or PG or somewhere ? maybe the steelers ? somewhere that says he had surgery … i dont see it on SD … i dotn see it int he PG .. dont see it on the steelers web site… then i do see bell working out on the beach yesterday … must have recovered from surgery pretty fast? appreciate a link please … thanks

  • FATCAT716

    1st of all the Steelers don’t totally make the decision on who has surgeries & who don’t that’s primarily a doctor’s decision so maybe the Steelers are getting more credit than they deserve & I’m sure the player has alot to do with that as well. Also a team like the Steelers are who they are because year in & year out they build thru the draft. The draft makes them better & keeping there own is the other side of that. Tuitt will be fine as well as AV.. Shazier will get a contract next year.. We will grab some depth players after cuts & or in the next few weeks to round things out

  • Boots

    We don’t have to know that stuff, Colbert and Tomlin know and that’s all that matters. Just breathe, there’s a long time until there’s a game that counts. Winning March is for college basketball teams and the Washington and Buffalo’s of the NFL. Things will work themselves out.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    My concern is depth. One injury and Gay/Golson is the number 2 CB. If not those two, then as it looks now, it’ll be a rookie in that spot. That should scare everyone, especially the coaches. All I wanted was for them to pick up an experienced corner to at least compete for a spot. Too many young guys out there, especially in the secondary, can lead to chaos.

  • heath miller

    oh michael i stand corrected my friend .. i did find a link where he had surgery … so was the instagram post of him working out on the beach taken taken before the surgery and just posted after the surgery .. supposedly the surgery took place on the 13th .. cant believe hes working out on the beach already ?

  • melblount

    OK. I try to do the author a favor by correcting a recurring grammar/spelling error of his and my post gets zapped. Got it.

    Nevertheless ;-), I’ll continue to read this site and do what I can to help out.

  • heath miller

    no doubt we built through the draft … not a doubt in the world.. most teams do .. the redskins… cowboys … dolphins.. same teams always ae active in FA and they suck … so i agree 100000% that the draft is the number one way to build a team … but … you need to enhance that with some FA .. i dotn think being the least active team in FA as we are so far this year is the way to go .. i think its a combination .. need to work together .. maybe 75% draft.. 25% FA .. not sure what the percentage is but it not 98% draft and 2% FA as it has been this year.. and the frustrating thing is .. in the past we have never had cap room for a freee agent.. this year we have the money and the ben ear window is closing …. fast

  • heath miller

    they will work out and the team we have will win (barring a ben injuy) 10-12 games … win the first and maybe second round of the AFC playoffs then lose to the pats IN foxboro 35-17 … we are a good team .. fun to watch .. always in the hunt .. so thats great and makes about 18 weeks of football really fun .. but we do nothing to take that final step ..

  • SteelerFanInMD

    Another area that needs improvement is the kick return game. They need to find someone who can give them better field position on kickoff returns and find a good punt returner who can take the load off of AB.

  • Craig M

    Player development thru maturity means a lot IMO but I still believe our weakness is in our offensive play philosophy and unfortunately there isn’t a decent OC available in FA. (Just my two cents)

  • Craig M

    Ayers, but they don’t give him a decent chance to establish himself- and too me that’s on Tomlin.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Look, a business uses all tools to improve… but the Steelers use one, the draft. When they don’t play the compensatory system in their favor, can’t build depth to make the oft-payer for draft pick trade…, or always value their own free agents over outside guys, that is short sighted. The past means nothing to me regarding this football team. Use the draft, FA and creative trades.

  • Brian Miller

    Well said.

  • Brian Miller

    More egregious is the excuse of “execution” in the AFCCG…how many times are we “out executed” by the Patriots? I know we haven’t played them much over the last couple of years, but the last three have been down right embarrassing. Sad really since we were in all of the games until the end…

  • falconsaftey43

    Don’t play the comp system in their favor? Well, not signing URFA is the only thing a team can do to improve their comp picks, the Steelers don’t sign many, so that helps. They value their own guys because they are good and they know them, less risk, but they’ve gone out and signed FAs when they wanted (Mitchell, Williams, Green in recent years). They’ve mad lots of trades recently, all with pretty poor results (Boykin, Gilbert, Scobee, traded a 2nd P for a pick, traded a LB that wasn’t going to make the team for a RB that did (Felix Jones?). They primarily use the draft, but they use the other tools as well.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Valid points but after the AB and Bell bursts in the first half of the Fins game, the offense was average the rest of the way. Ben and co. can help the defense with long td scoring drives. The issue I have is a team you can’t beat- nothing changes. Unless they find two corners and a Khalil Mack in the draft.. they will be in the same boat.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    You mean how Julian Edleman is covered by Lawrence Timmons? Or when they abandon the run when Lev gets hurt? They don’t have press corners and are befuddled what to do. There is a talent deficiency at corner and one of the safety spots… and it’s masked by us playing Moore, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Flacco and the Browns qbs

  • francesco

    I would have said DC.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I agree we do have the best skilled players over the pats outside of tE (who didn’t even play) and qb (who some say Ben is not far behind)so it really doesn’t matter who we sign or draft if the coaching doesn’t change their scheme and play calling we will always lose to the pats plain and simple

  • Boots

    I get your frustration, I really do. I was hoping we’d make a splash, too. Here’s something to think about, though, we still haven’t faced the cheatriots with Ben, AB, MB, and Bell all in the lineup and if we aren’t playing with one arm tied behind our back offensively I honestly feel we are the better team.

  • VaDave

    I’ll agree that Ben’s decline would have an effect on the team equal to 4 other players. That said, I think the biggest reason for Ben being a bit of his game last year, is a lack of practice reps. It was pretty obvious that they were concentrating on the running game down the stretch. Due to the CBA, during the regular season, there isn’t a whole lot of time these guys get to hone the product. Add in Wednesdays off…JMO.

  • FATCAT716

    I agree with you that’s for sure but it’s also hard for to go against “the steeler way” I live in buffalo ny where I have friends who would do anything to just be as consistent as the Steelers. Teams spend so much of there money on free agency trying to do all they can to get better that they lose they core of players because they can’t afford them or the team chemistry is not right. The Steelers raise there players thru the draft because there vets show the youth how to be Steelers & the cycle continues. New England has been fortunate & as fans that’s who we focus on but that can’t be the focus & I trust this organization. Also I felt like they were very aggressive in FA it just didn’t pan out though

  • Steeler Fanatic

    The compensatory system is a small piece, but the Pats use option years as a way to play that formula in stacking their deck. The trades were picks for players… and low-rent guys that were on the way out of tgeir respective teams. I am talking developing quality depth and trade players for an additional pick…. if we had a desirable back up qb or extra receiver. Ryan Harris, if he didn’t get hurt or retire, would have been a great option.

  • francesco

    A lot of if this or that. The simple matter is that our coaching staff is not in the same league as the Patriots.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I agree… but I think there is a weird deference to Ben to not make him second fiddle to Bell in the offense.. that he needs at least equal billing at all times.

  • FATCAT716

    So true.. Adding Heyward, Bryant, & hopefully Golson (No I haven’t giving up on him yet) will improve this team in a major way. Plus the young guy’s can go thru OTA’s & camp after getting experience is huge. Add the draft & whoever else we add thru free agency & I’m ready for the season.

  • FATCAT716

    No team in the NFL is in the same league as the Patriots right now

  • heath miller

    this is the post of the year… 100% truth .. yep the truth hurts but no matter the players .. we and all the other teams in the NFL will be outcoached. i mean these guys were winning with a 2nd and 3rd string QB and were ready to win with a WR at QB .. brady is just a bonus to the coaching … i hate him .. but hes the best coach .. EVER

  • Michael James

    Oh I don’t know that, would be confusing if he’s already working out on the beach, so I suppose it was taken before.

  • heath miller

    boots i have little doubt that our players are probably better than the pats.. little doubt of that … and yeah we didnt have MB and may never have MB .. and we had bell and he didnt do much .. as soon as he went down D Will came in and we scored a TD .. so we didnt have MB for the year and we shoud have been able to compensate for some of that after 18 weeks .. bell went down but wasnt doing much when he was in there .. and dont forget . they didnt have one fo the greatest TEs ever (gronk) .. so we both haplayers missing … the fact is … as you said .. we do have players as good as the coaching.. so why did we get blown out? one word… COACHING … if we have just as good or better players what else can it be ? 3 questions for EVERYONE HERE… does BB cheat? does BB bend the rules? do we wish he was our coach ? …. i think everyone here (thats honest) would answer the same to those 3 questions .. probably, yes and hell yeah

  • falconsaftey43

    What team in the league does that? Outside the backup QB thing as they’re really hard to find a QB good enough that you don’t want, but someone else does. To get any sort of significant pick, you need to give up a really good player.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Don’t get me wrong I love our coaches but they’re so smart they’re stupid and out coach themselves

  • heath miller

    well i agree its hard to disagree with one of the most successful teams in the history of sports… and it does work .. but it needs a little help with FA … just the way the game is now.. we are a consistent winner and thats greattttt… we win our 10 or 11 games a year .. it maes for a very exciting season .. almost every season… what other team can say that .. not many … so we all have an exciting 17 weeks…. then the playoffs .. more excitment .. then we play the pats and the balloon busts…. but still… the steelers give us a fun team to watch for 20 weeks a year… remember it is a business.. so they have the ultimate plan … always be competitive .. always fill the stadium .. d they want to win the SB .. sue they do … but a 10-6 11-5 team will keep the stands full… by not going for it all one year to win the super bowl we never mortgage the future for the win it all this year philosophy … so we never have an team that is not competitive.. we never go for it all one year at the cost of knowing we will probably have a few 5-11 or 6-10 seasons .. so we have a different philosophy .. be good alllllllllllll the time .. fill the seats .. be competitive.. make the playoffs every year but maybe not be there team that wins it all …. keeps the fans coming back …

  • Daniel

    I know we can’t beat the patriots in FA and in games but in the draft we do beat them in that area

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I could not disagree more MM. While the draft is how most teams grow their roster, the need for immediate help vs talent that must be developed is obvious.

    You said so yourself, in discussing how the Steelers defense was unable to do some of the things Butler wanted to do, because Burns wasn’t able to play in all of the coverages they want to use. They had to scale back, etc, etc..

    Frankly, there are simply times when the iron is hot and players must be acquired to complete a team. The Broncos knew that and won the SB by adding in that situation. Heck, the Pats just won and they’re doing the same thing.

    The Steelers sitting on the sideline and not adding talent is doing only one thing, widening the divide instead of closing it.

  • ciscoNoDrink

    I love our young secondary. Replacing Timmons with a good coverage linebacker and finding / developing a fierce pass rush are my only concerns on defense.

  • Boots

    My take on the AFCCG is it would’ve been a different game with a healthy Bell, or at least an effective Bell. We had changed our offense bc of the injuries at WR, so we were forced to get away from what had gotten us there. Now I’m not going as far as Bell to say we definitely would’ve won with him, but I do believe it doesn’t turn into the lopsided loss that it turned into and there is a lot less worry from fans right now.

    Now to answer the other three questions, I say yes, yes and no. And I honestly mean no. I hate losing, but I’d rather lose straight up and be able to look myself in the mirror and say I gave my all and lost than to be a cheater.

    I’m sure you’ll think I’m getting on my high horse a bit here so let me ask you, if BB had been Lance Armstronged like he should’ve been would you still want him as the coach?

  • T3xassteelers

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a first round bye for once? It’s been a while…

  • T3xassteelers

    Great post! Puts everything into perspective.

  • RickM

    I think a person can recognize that we have a good team with lots of positives going forward. But that doesn’t stop the person from wishing they would make it even better through league-wide free-agency. They aren’t mutually exclusive as a few suggest.

    I think the inactivity is unfortunate with the shortened playing window for their franchise QB. But I’ve always felt smart free agency acquisitions should be made in combination with the draft. There are some very bad contracts awarded in FA for sure, but a number of good teams use the period to their advantage.

  • Jeff McNeill

    Duh. Lol they can’t play them in the SB.

  • Jeff McNeill

    How many times have they played the pats in the playoffs since BB been their? I remember twice, am I mistaken?

  • Jeff McNeill

    Two corners? I think Burns has the potential to be an all-pro in the next couple of years.

  • heath miller

    of the 3 you mention which one is the bottom line… winning the FA battle? winning the draft battle .. or winning the games? i know which one i would pick .. and the hint is .. its one of the 2 you said we arnt winning .. lol

  • heath miller

    tuff Q… i mean you hope to think winning isnt the only thing.. and personally i hate BB … but you look at their success .. and its hard to hop on that high horse and say im glad we got tomlin who plays clean but always loses (except when he goes on the field to block a kick off return lol) .. but yeah id like to think i would rather have a second tier team with tomlin than a SB champ with BB … but years from now all people are going to do is count the trophies in the case and id sure like ot have had a couple of those NE won … and i hate BB .. dont want him as OUR coach .. just dont want him as any coach to have to beat. he is simply the best .. like him or hate him .. he is the best .. i think most time the playrs make the coach look good.. like jordan with phil jackson .. joprdan made phil… look at him with the knicks… look at montana with a couple coaches.. look at lebron with ANY coach .. but i really believe its BB that makes brady rather than brady makes BB… those other coaches lose the star and they turn into a very average coach… BB loses brady and stilll has an impressive winning %

  • heath miller

    dont know .. could easily be researched .. how many times have they played in the playoffs and reg season and what is the record.. that would be interesting to see .. say in the big ben/brady era ..

  • Jeff McNeill

    It’s twice in the playoffs 2004 and last year.

  • RickM

    I look at these guys as writing so many stories and words, and think they do a great job grammatically, with spelling, etc. If there is something wrong, it’s just no big deal with the volume of words produced.

    By the way, the phrase “of the his and my” in your first sentence is incorrect. I make mistakes like that all the time, guaranteed. But it illustrates why sweating this type of stuff and bringing it up is just not that important.

  • Dorian James

    Do you think this team gets more or less wins than last year? I agree that young players should get better,but without addressing starting edge, starting CB,loss of Timmons. I think we take a step back. Just my opinion.

  • Dorian James

    As much as I like Dupree I disagree that he’s making that jump this year and who was going to do it on the other side? Also that type of a dresser will not be available to us in the draft. Believe me guys I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t think we’re getting better without a dynamic Edge rusher. Until Bryant and gholston play a meaningful snap I’m not even counting them

  • melblount

    This is the kind of reply I’d expect from readers/posters here.

    Here’s, in part, how Matt describes himself:
    “Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability…”

    If Matt has any REAL interest in improving his writing abilities, he should welcome the criticism of a reader/poster who took the time to point out that he REPEATEDLY states “never the less” when in fact the word is “nevertheless.”

    Having been a sports editor (for a brief time) and having written high level reports for senior management (for about thirty years), I ALWAYS welcomed ANY/ALL corrections of my grammar and/or spelling as I KNOW that each affected what intelligent readers thought of my content, and in many cases, thought of me personally.

    For anyone who thinks spelling/grammar is NOT important in today’s world, try this fact on for size: If a job applicant at my former employer (one of the largest employers in my state) had ONE misspelled word in their cover letter, job application or resume, their stuff went directly into the Human Resources trash can.

  • AndyR34

    Again…that might have been his point! The sarcasm obviously eluded you.

  • AndyR34

    You’re not the only one that had a post zapped and I didn’t even try to correct anybody. I have posted often and have no idea why it happened this time. Maybe a mod will send me an e-mail to explain it.

  • Donte Williams

    ask yourself this if the Pats were in the AFC north and the Steelers in that weak as division the AFC East do you think the tables wouldve turned? the pats a good team just like the Colts were with Peyton but look at their divisions horrible they had some cake walk as games for years while the black and blue division was beating one another up. Im not in freak out mode over F/As lets see how this team is healthy this past playoffs the first 2 rounds gave us a mew view on how we can look when healthy.

  • Donte Williams

    how did the Giants do this past year after dropping 210 million on that defense in F/A? how about them Skins who love to buy themselves a ship? what about the Jaguars how they do? how far did it the Ravens last year? you crack me up

  • Donte Williams

    burns is a press corner Crockrell isnt probably why they only put a 4th round tender on him. and not to mention we had a rookie in the back end as well. this team is young and got that experience under their belt out of these young kats there is no excuses next year referring to the Burns Crockrell Davis of the bunch hell throw in Gravedigger and Bud as well this defense should improve next year and i have faith that they will

  • John Phillips

    I’m still holding out hope we get Golson for a full season as well.

  • heath miller

    another tuff question… so is it better to be in a traditionally tuffer conf like ours or easier like the pats are in … we have the always tough ravens and always weak browns so to me thats a wash … and the bengals are average so to me we are in a pretty average conference … overall… but is it easier to play good competition as you say we do then go into the playoffs or an easier division like the pats .. beat a bunch of cup cakes all year then have to play the good teams in the playoffs.. to me id rather play good competition all year an be really for good tams in the playoffs rahter then a bunch of crappy teams all year then have to go play the better teams in the playoffs.. and besides the 2 ravens games each year the otehr two teams are really below average.. when you consider the bengals average and the browns usualy the worst team in the year… others could argue that when yu play the browns its almost like 2 more bye weeks …

  • Donte Williams

    and who would you have signed this off season? keep in mind what you putting towards this double digit F/A is taking away from possibly the AB deal, the tag on Bell the non tender to Villa the non signing of Johnson? not to mention Tuitt and Shaz are next in line

  • Donte Williams

    thank you Michael James

  • heath miller

    giants just signed the 3 fingered JPP for 5 years like 65 mil lol.. and everything you said .. all the teams you mentioned i called out for doing it the wrong way … you cant just do FA .. you cant just do the draft.. its a combination .. i said th same thing as you said about the redskins… the cowboys .. the jags and dolphins… try to pay attention … you crack me up … lol

  • Donte Williams

    but yet you complaining about the Steelers not signing big in the F/A when have they ever its nothing knew they are not a team that is going to go blow millions cause they have millions. as i posted below who were they going to snag that was a high profile player? you want Gilmore over AB or Bell? F/A isnt over with and there must be reasoning why Brown is still sitting out there on the market why AP Charles is still out there. the steelers dont go head first into F/A and with the roster we have we pretty much have our starters intact. lets revisit the Steelers roster once the 53 man team is assembled

  • heath miller

    so i guess the pats signed gilmore because they dont know what they are doing? they signed hightower becaue they dont know what they are doing? lol.. they realize that bray is like ben … limited amount of time to win NOW .. although BB can win with almost any Qb … but they get it .. they know its WIN NOW time with brady … we must think we are building thru the draft so we are good in 3 years when ben retires.. you REALLY do crack me up … ok im done with ya cyaaaaaaaa

  • LucasY59

    …a home game for the AFCCG would be nice as well

    (call it a conspiracy theory if you want, but they cant win on in NE (for more than a couple reasons) but with a home field advantage I would feel the odds are much better)

  • T3xassteelers

    Haha, yup. Heck, we almost beat them at home with Landry as QB!!

  • Matthew Marczi

    In what sense are they not as good as last year?

  • Matthew Marczi

    This would be a solid point if it were true.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Because he was a rookie. That won’t be the case this year. I would bet money they’ll play more man this year. That is why they drafted Burns.

  • LucasY59

    Thank you for this article!

    I had mentioned in the Questions article that pretty much every Defensive starter could improve from last yr (Harrison is one of the few that isnt likely to, or Mitchell, where the improvement might be to replace him with a guy like Melifonwu) for Heyward (and to some degree Golson) its an improvement just by being healthy, but almost all of the rest of the players should still be in their rookie contracts, so there is definitely room to improve

    there is a lot of “sky is falling” and over reaction over not signing FAs (and a few other things)

    yes, there have been some guys where it was disappointing they didnt sign with the Steelers (mainly Logan Ryan) but most of the guys they were interested in, but didnt sign, got deals that overpayed them (and I would rather have the problem of missing out on signing a FA over signing a FA and having them be a waste of $) there have been very few that would have a “for sure” postive impact on the quality of play (so many FAs are guys that werent worth keeping by their previous team) and very few are really good players that a team wanted to keep, but couldnt afford (most teams find ways to afford those types of players)

    there is a lot of talent at the positions of need for this draft, so although getting contributions from rookies on a team that is competing for a SB is not ideal, the players they could get (combined with the young talent the team already has) should make this team better than last yr, the rookies will also have some veteran players that can help them develop (and most will have to outperform to get on the field or at least rotate with) so its not like they are going to be forced out there which is a much worse situation

  • LucasY59

    exactly

  • LucasY59

    with that thought process they shouldve let Bell go so they could afford to go get the high priced FAs

  • Steeler Fanatic

    How so? The Steelers don’t make viable trades or don’t participate in FA on a high level free agency… Mike Mitchell is a second level guy. Look, I am not faulting them for their successes… I just think sometimes our own FAs aren’t as good as outside FAs.

  • LucasY59

    they just signed Knile Davis, so he should be better than Fitz (If either make the roster…?)

    I think Ayers might help as well (I think Tomlin will have more trust/confidence in a 2nd yr player than he had in Demarcus as a rookie) and Rogers might be an option as a PR as well (so like Matthew pointed out in the article, there are ways the team can get better without adding someone)

    I do think they need to improve on blocking for the returners also, and I think coach Smith is on the hot seat (even though he was kept this yr) he still needs to make some improvements to keep his job (he could be gone quickly if they dont)

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Not true. There are the no-brainers top 7-8 players that we should sign. But isn’t it odd that we don’t even bring a Logan Ryan or Kilpatrick for a desparate need

  • Dorian James

    Good point, but at some point you just have to take that chance. And honestly I was biased because Ryan is a Rutgers guy

  • Matthew Marczi

    You said that they don’t use every tool available to them. But you falsely equate not signing outside players to $10+ per year deals as not using free agency. The point about the compensatory pick is also a strange one in a year in which they have a third-rounder.

  • LucasY59

    they made their one big $ signing this yr by tagging Bell, its a 10+ mil $ deal that everyone seems to think they need to make, and if he was on the market he wouldve been the most sought after FA this yr, so for most who say the Steelers have done NOTHING they are actually very incorrect

    yes bringing in a CB wouldve helped, but it was also expensive (the guys you mentioned are good players, but IMO (and obviously the FOs) they were not good enough to pay a ton of $, and their market value was actually higher than their actual value)

  • LucasY59

    the problem is depth guys were getting paid a lot of $ this yr in FA

  • LucasY59

    I agree with everything you said and would add that the in the moment frustration makes it hard to see that most of the CBs they missed out on were not worth what they got paid,

    so long term it could be better they didnt sign a CB to a bad contract (with the success they have had at trying to fix the CB position, throwing $ at the problem could lead to the biggest failure yet)

  • LucasY59

    Thank you! couldnt agree more, the disappointment has lead to some serious over reaction

  • LucasY59

    I think the problem is the 1-3 mil guys are getting 4-6 mil this yr

  • LucasY59

    the pass rush wasnt even that bad at the end of the yr, they were getting sacks (the problem is the OLBs werent the ones getting most of them, and they had to blitz a lot to start getting pressure)

    I think Coach Butler has seen that relying on a base rush isnt going to work, so he will keep blitzing (and he has a lot of time to look at how the big cushion zone didnt work and hopefully is making changes for that as well)

  • LucasY59

    KC has not had a good FA offseason, they kept Berry but lost other players and cant afford to bring in outside players. so they are probably having a “worse” offseason than the Steelers (I dont personally think the Steelers have had a bad offseason, but the concensus of comments seems that way) I dont think Oakland has done much either, both teams will be competition in the AFC, but I think the Steelers have more talent than either

    the pats have made some moves and lots of fans (league wide) are oohing and awing, but I think bill has mortgaged his future and now it all lies on tommy staying healthy for the next couple seasons and if he struggles the team could easily fall apart

    the Steelers dont have a big window to win with Ben so I see the need for urgency, but there is a very talented young group of players on the team and short term unwise decisions could bankrupt/waste that talent for the future

  • Steel Realist PAul

    But Matthew, that’s just the point. Anyone they might add thru this year’s draft will be another rookie, unable to slide in and be a starting CB who allows the team to do what they want today. It pushes aid to the future, instead of getting that aid now, for the 2017 season.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Nothing is relative. We all knew they would tag bell and pay ab. With $20m in cap space, pass rusher or cb is a priority…. because you have rookie or low salaries in the secondary. They have no big money invested in their linebackers… I know Shazier will be worked on, but your back 7 has four rookie contracts, Mitchell, Deebo and VW… plus the cap is perpetually going up, Ben’s contract will be off the books in three years. If anybody thinks Carl Lawson will be the answer at 30… I am not as confident. John Simon. Gerald Hodges…. reasonably priced vets. They have spent money but when you look average against the Chiefs and get hammered against NE… holding on to $20m when guys are available is a head scratcher.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    They lucked out on the comp pick… Colbert was surprised- the comp system is what it is but the Steelers seem to lose a lot more free agents than they gain but somehow they never get multiple comp picks. Why is that? I don’t question them spending money but having $19m and not filling a dire need. It stresses the draft process.

  • Boots

    When they are cap casualties in two years we can scoop them up cheaper! Lol

  • LucasY59

    the 20 mil isnt all spendable, Dave Bryan has posted a couple articles that show the amount of usable cap space is much lower (things like extensions for Tuitt and AV as well as signing this yrs rookies and having emergency cap space in case they need to sign a injury replacement)

    spending cap space just because they have it is a good way to have cap problems in the future (something they have dealt with recently which made it hard to sign outside FAs even if they wanted to) the Steelers dont overpay players, especially outside FAs, if they dont spend the $ it can carry over and when they have that extra cap cushion there might be a better chance for them to actually sign a big name FA (still has to be a player they think is worth the $ since they will not overpay or outbid another team)

    saving the $ will also allow them to keep the young talent they are developing, Shazier could be a big $ re-sign and then Dupree will be the following yr so maxing out the cap would be a problem in the future (even if the cap increases every yr)

  • Craig M

    I agree just believe that the short game, run game w/ also passes to RBs/ TEs, really sets up the medium- long ball pass game- while also controlling TOP to assist the D. Ben is the Field General but it seems (to me) that Haley restricts his play calling.

  • mokhkw

    If they’re such “no-brainers to sign” then how did they even get to FA in the first place?

    How many teams do you see letting their best players walk unless they think they’re overpriced and not capable of producing to the level of the $s they will get? Even teams with tons of $s to spend didn’t even bother looking at the high $ FAs because they knew they were over-priced.

    FA is always Buyer Beware, history shows that players generally aren’t as good with their new teams.

    You really think that Logan Ryan will be better playing for the Titans than the Patriots? You really think that Kirkpatrick is a No.1 CB? You really want to spend $10mil+ a year to find out rather than give extensions to guys like Tuitt and AV?

    I’d like to see the list of your 7-8 no-brainers because I don’t think there was even one.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I am not talking a shutdown corner. Why can’t Ryan do well with the Titans? Chandler Jones was great with the Cards. Woodhead did well with the Chargers. Zac Brown. Ryan. Boueu, Amakamura. Hodges. Kilpatrick. Foles. Daniel. Outside of Ryan and Dre, any one of those guys would have been reasonably priced and upgraded the position. We have NO second corner. Gay? Cockrell? C’mon. And we are hoping VW can cover. And Deebo is our starting OLB. John Simon could have filled that role. You think the draft will answer all of those questions? Or that these rookies will develop like last year. One last thing- we signed Landry like he was Romo… why not wait and let the market play out… Foles and Daniel would have been upgrades. That being said we’re both on the same side… just passionate Steelers fans. Good points man.

  • Dorian James

    What I meant was they Won’t be better. And no I don’t have any evidence to backup what I’m saying. I just have a feeling. I surely don’t think we’ve gotten any better and like the saying goes if you didn’t get any better you got worse. I’m not trying to say we’re going to stink I just don’t think we’re going to have more wins than last year.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, I’m sure we both hope you’re wrong.