The Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert spent some time with the media on Wednesday and discussed several topics as questions about the offseason came pouring in. One of the most popular topics of discussion was how Colbert answered some questions in reference to the 2021 quarterback situation and Ben Roethlisberger. A lot of speculation was about Colbert being non-committal to Roethlisberger returning as the team’s starter in 2021. With the comments about the future of Roethlisberger taking the media by storm, another offseason discussion topic flew under the radar.
The Steelers will most likely have at least two new starters on the offensive line next season and possibly more with future Hall of Famer, center, Maurkice Pouncey announcing his retirement recently. With several other offensive linemen scheduled to hit free agency in March, the Steelers will have to make decisions on who they will bring back. Colbert referenced the offensive line room on Wednesday, “We probably have the potential biggest losses in that position group.” Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Zach Banner, and Jerald Hawkins are all set to become free agents at the start of the new league year. Three out of the four were starters in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
It’s no secret that offensive line play was poor last season. The Steelers offensive line collectively struggled to get any kind of push in the majority of their games last season and as a result struggled heavily in the run game. The team ranked last in total rushing yards, yards per carry average, and rushing yards per game. So with poor results, change was needed, right? The Steelers’ front office has stated multiple times this offseason that they want to commit to fixing the rushing attack. When fans hear front offices pressing for a commitment to the running game, they automatically think the team should find an elite running back. Of course, running back is a position of need, especially with James Conner entering free agency as well. However, investments should be made for long-term solutions up front. The Steelers will look to the NFL Draft in order to rebuild the offensive line and will most likely add a depth piece or two in free agency. The team will probably look to re-sign at least one of their own unrestricted free agents up front, but it sounds like Colbert likes the depth of this year’s draft class, particularly at the tackle position. “The tackles are unusually deep this year, so I think we can add players through the draft and hopefully we’ll be able to do some type of business in free agency and we’re always going to look at our own players first.” What does this comment mean for the Steelers approach to the NFL offseason in regards to the offensive line? Absolutely nothing at this point, the comment points out what most of us have already assumed. We know how the Steelers do business, they like to retool through the draft and they prefer to retain their own players instead of becoming desperate in free agency.
Although, one could speculate that Colbert’s comments about the depth of the tackle position in this year’s draft could simply mean that the Steelers could pass on a tackle in the 1st round and look to later rounds to add one. That doesn’t mean much though because Colbert is right! This year’s tackle class is deep and very talented. A team could find a 10-year starter in the 3rd or 4th rounds.