5 Key Areas to Address in Pittsburgh’s Offseason

The Steelers unfortunately reached the 2018 offseason sooner than they would have hoped, but they have already made some moves since Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville. Cornerback Mike Hilton signed a one-year extension and former OC Todd Haley has since been replaced by QB Coach Randy Fichtner. There are still many key areas that would be in the teams’ best interest to address.

1. Resign Le’Veon Bell

This should Pittsburgh’s main focus, plain and simple. Bell is arguably the league’s best running back and it is clear he deserves to be paid/treated as such. This was his argument last season, he wanted to paid as the league’s best running back as well as one of the league’s top wide receivers and this is understandable. Bell played every game this game and finished the 2017 regular season with 1,291 yards, 9 rushing touchdowns and added 655 receiving yards on 85 receptions as well as 2 receiving touchdowns. It is clear Bell is a very valuable player and key piece to the offenses’ success. We have heard reports lately that give the team, as well as the fans some cause for concern on whether Bell will be a Steeler next season. For now, it seems obvious we do not want it to come to that.

2. Draft/Sign LB

It was undeniable how shallow Pittsburgh’s linebacker core was once Ryan Shazier went down with his scary spinal injury against Cincinnati. Realistically, Shazier can not be replaced, he is such a rare talent that possesses all of the attributes teams look for in a defensive captain. Shazier’s leadership was incredibly missed, and while some players on the defensive side of the ball stepped up, no one was able to fill the void he left behind. Pittsburgh needs to find a player that can match Shazier’s speed, playmaking ability, as well as his ability to read opposing offenses. Right now, it looks like the 2018 draft will be Pittsburgh’s best bet to find some help at the linebacker position. Most big boards have Pittsburgh taking Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans, as he appears to be a special talent at the inside linebacker position. Other targets at this position that Pittsburgh could go for are Micah Kiser (Virginia) and Josey Newell (Iowa). Some notable free agents at this position are Navorro Bowman, Zach Brown, Christian Jones, Demario Davis, and Kevin Minter.

3. Stop the run!

If it wasn’t clear during the regular season that the Steelers needed some help stopping the run, Leonard Fournette made it pretty clear this past Sunday that Pittsburgh needs to find a presence up front to help out against the ground game. Pittsburgh allowed a 4.4 yards per carry to opposing running backs, which was 27th in the league. Right, not so good. Javon Hargrave is a great player, but his size raises some eyebrows, not exactly the prototypical size for a nose tackle. Da’Ron Payne out of Alabama or Maurice Hurst out of Michigan can be possible targets for Pittsburgh with their projected 28th overall pick. Some possible free agents are Dontari Poe, Bennie Logan, Kyle Williams, and Haloti Ngata.

4. Draft/Sign Safety

It is unclear whether Mike Mitchell will be with the team next year, and whether he is or isn’t it would be in the team’s best interest to find some help at the position. The team would have a nice chunk of cap space to play around with if in fact Mitchell did get released. It also is clear that Pittsburgh is very susceptible to giving up big plays, so adding depth at this position would hopefully help in that aspect. Ronnie Harrison, also out of Alabama, might be a late first round target for Pittsburgh to go for and assess the depth at the safety position. Other draft targets could be Marcus Allen (Penn State), Quin Blanding (Virginia), Justin Reid (Standford) and DeShon Elliott (Texas).Some free agents at this position are Morgan Burnett, Reggie Nelson, T.J. Ward, Tyvon Branch, Darius Butler, and Marcus Gilchrist.

5. Add more OL depth

Pittsburgh definitely has a solid offensive line, but we saw with Marcus Gilbert’s suspension and some injuries here and there, it would have been reassuring to know that there are guys ready to go if need be. Chris Hubbard did show flashes of solid play as he filled in for Gilbert, but he may be gone in free agency and never hurts to have depth at this position. More than likely, they will not be using a first round draft pick on a back-up offensive lineman, but snagging one in later rounds is not a bad idea.

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