The 2022 season has just ended, and as of March 13, the 2023 campaign will open its doors. DNA of Sports therefore takes the opportunity to offer you an overview of the different franchises during the off-season. Which players to keep and cut? Which free agent to extend? Which rookies to watch? Here are some ideas, franchise by franchise. In the spotlight today, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Constancy in the midst of tumults. Many feared for Pittsburgh a year 2022 for the least complicated. It must be said that with offensive line problems, a rookie quarterback quickly thrown into the deep end and the team’s best player injured for a long time on defense, there was little to suggest a favorable outcome in Pennsylvania.
And yet: if the playoffs were narrowly missed, Mike Tomlin was once again able to lead his training to a positive balance, by aligning four consecutive successes in the home stretch. The Steelers intend to confirm this good series quickly, but it will go through a successful offseason, the first really managed by the former assistant of Kevin Colbert and now General Manager in chief, Omar Khan. With plenty of free agent starting defensemen and the need for offensive adjustments to rebuild around quarterback Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh is going to have to make some decisions. But which ones? Response elements .
1. TJ Watt
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick
Only one being is missing and everything is depopulated. While the Steelers have displayed respectable defensive standards in 2022, being the tenth best team in the league, in terms of points conceded per game, the absence of linebacker TJ Watt has been sorely highlighted for a good part of the season. , beyond the 5 and a half sacks compiled by the triple All-Pro player over his ten games of the year. His volume and his leadership did the greatest good at the end of the season and he remains a full-fledged captain.
Other defensive stars can support him, such as safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, his team’s best interceptor in 2022, with six stolen balls including a Pick-6, or the eternal Cameron Heyward who, at 33, has again invited to the Pro Bowl at the end of the year, from the top of his 10 and a half sacks.
1. Mitchell Trubisky (QB)
2. Ahkello Witherspoon (CB)
3. William Jackson III (CB)
He was only supposed to be there to ease the transition, and it’s a safe bet that Mitchell Trubisky’s adventure will soon come to an end in the city of steel. With 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, during the 5 matches in which he participated, the former Bears player did little to boost a hitherto sluggish attack and would save the Steelers $8 million with a cut. A welcome sum given the not necessarily obvious salary record of the franchise at the start of the offseason.
Many contracts offer a minimum of flexibility to the franchise (Okorafor, Daniels, Jack) but it is of course on the cornerback position that decisions could be imposed more naturally, from a health point of view. Ahkello Witherspoon has never had a full season since joining the league in 2017 and would save $4 million on the salary cap. And what about William Jackson III, placed on the injured list eleven days after his exchange from Washington, and who represents the same physical concerns on the edge of an annual contract of 12 million for the 2023 season.
The summer man
The title of man of the summer could have been shared with Kenny Pickett, as we expect a little more from the young local star, from the University of Pittsburgh. But to progress, the offensive metronome will probably need a slightly more inspired coordinator. He also went through the University of Pittsburgh (without having crossed paths with his player), Matt Canada has not only made fans since his promotion as coordinator in 2021.
Certainly, Najee Harris was more prominent offensively, crossing the bar of 1,000 yards on the ground. Admittedly, the line showed encouraging signs, especially on the right wing and on the run block. But with the offense ranked 26th in the league in points scored per game this season, despite emerging targets like Pat Freiermuth and George Pickens, we’d expect a little more from the offensive line on the Pennsylvania side. Finally supported fairly quickly by his head coach, Canada knows that he is probably playing his last card in 2023, and will have to capitalize on the learning of each other to reach a major milestone next season.
The main free agents
1. Terrell Edmunds (S)
2. Cameron Sutton (BC)
3. Larry Ogunjobi (DL)
4. Devin Bush (LB)
5. Chris Wormley (DL)
Others : Mason Rudolph (QB), Derek Watt (FB), Zach Gentry (TE), Jesse Davis (OL), Tyson Alualu (DL), Robert Spillane (LB), Marcus Allen (LB), Malik Reed (LB).
As mentioned above, it is in defense that important choices will have to be made. On the backfield side, the negotiations already seem active enough to bring back Terrell Edmunds and the good progress Cam Sutton, who should both be very followed.
On the defensive line, Ogunjobi and Wormley have been interesting rotational players and their return will depend above all on the price to be paid. One can be a little less optimistic for a Devin Bush too often disappointing under the black and yellow tunic and which could change air during the spring.
Top 5 Needs
4. Inside linebacker
5. Defensive Lineman
If the defensive needs mentioned are mainly related to free agents and the situations of expensive cornerbacks still under contract, the main building site is necessarily in attack and on the left wing of the line.
Dan Moore has clearly shown his limits on the pro pass and Kevin Dotson is arguably primarily a rotation player, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pittsburgh double down on offensive linemen in the draft, especially with three picks in the draft. top 50.
Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Bills)
It’s one of the growing fantasies in Pittsburgh, and there’s nothing far-fetched about the idea. In view of the end of Devin Bush’s contract and the uncertain situation around Myles Jack (best tackler in 2022, with 104 units, but whose contract is worth 11 million next year, if not restructured), it is a new family reunion that the franchise could organize.
After the Watts and the Heywards, this time it is the Edmunds who could become neighbors (even if that necessarily depends on the extension of Terrell, as mentioned above). A little more fragile during the last exercise, Tremaine Edmunds again crossed the 100 tackles mark and would represent a major asset for the franchise in the coverage aspect on the second curtain, with his meter 96 and the 35 passes defended that he accumulated in five seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Lively, intense, aggressive, Edmunds has an image that seems to stick with those of the Men of Steel and would make this defense even more intimidating than it already has.
The new blood
Paris Johnson Jr. (OT, Ohio State)
Let it be said: Pittsburgh will surely look at the best tackle available in the first round of the draft. And Omar Khan could be delighted to get his hands (via a trade up?) on a profile like that of Paris Johnson Jr. Player praised internally for his leadership, the native of Cincinnati has been a real sponge in recent years, demonstrating a dazzling development leading him to become CJ Stroud’s privileged bodyguard at Ohio State.
Admittedly, his physical dimensions have helped him a lot, but it is his determination, his natural explosiveness and his thirst for learning from a point of technique and center of gravity that make this prospect a special player who would fit without a draw. doubt to the local mentality. With only one real season as a left tackle, “P2J” still needs to improve on the pro pass against very active rushers, but his basic attributes should quickly make him a starter in his first season, able to crack down on the game. on the ground where he excelled at Columbus for three years.
Alternative : Broderick Jones (OT, Georgia), Joey Porter Jr. (CB, Penn State), Emmanuel Forbes (CB, Mississippi State), Siaki Ika (NT, Baylor).