The season might not quite be over for another couple of days, but 30 teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, have already hit offseason mode following their elimination, either prior to or during the playoffs. Pittsburgh got quite far this year, reaching the AFC Championship game for the first time since 2010
But before we get too deep into the offseason, it’s time to take a look at the Steelers’ roster as it appears to be shaping up as we look ahead to 2017.
As with almost every other team, the Steelers have already made some roster tweaks, signing several players to Reserve/Futures contracts, tenders, and other sorts of contract, , so here is a position-by-position look at how the team looks heading into the offseason.
Position: Outside Linebacker
Total Positional Figure: 6
James Harrison: It’s both impressive and disappointing that James Harrison is still the Steelers’ best outside linebacker. Impressive that he is still playing at a high level at his age, but disappointing that they haven’t found a player to match him yet.
Jarvis Jones: That player will certainly not be Jarvis Jones, who clearly looks to be on his way to a new home in 2017. Jones was virtually benched by the end of the year after they game him ample opportunity to prove himself. It’s time to move on. They have depth. They need an impact player.
Bud Dupree: Perhaps Bud Dupree will be that impact player. He showed flashes of that this past season, a year that was badly derailed by a sports hernia that required surgery and limited him to about eight games including the playoffs. He managed to put up some sacks and forced an interception in the Divisional Round.
Arthur Moats: Arthur Moats has played pretty much every role for the Steelers at this point, from being a starter, to a rotational player, to a special-teamer. He is valuable depth, but they realize by now what he is: depth.
Anthony Chickillo: I’m afraid that is also the role that Anthony Chickillo will ultimately settle in. I know there are those who hold out hope that he can cement himself as a starter—he did pass Moats on the depth chart—but I don’t see it. He can rotate, and he is a core special-teamer.
Farrington Huguenin: Perhaps the most interesting thing about this Reserve/Future player is that he was a teammate of Bud Dupree’s at Kentucky for three seasons. He has a pretty large build at the position, but very little production. He went undrafted last year and got injured working with the Dolphins.
Offseason Strategy: The strategy, in my view, is simple. Re-sign James Harrison and take a pass-rusher early in the draft. The top of the free agency class will be too rich for their blood and anything less is not worth investing in. They don’t need more depth. They have Moats and Chickillo. They need another piece at the top of the depth chart.