Keeping up with the Steelers: Offseason Grading

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

It's been yet another crazy offseason in the Burgh filled with tragedy and a changing of the guard. The main story being the tragic passing of Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins in April. It seems like every NFL offseason there is an event that just shocks the football world and really puts everything into perspective. Unfortunately this offseason it was the news of another player gone too soon. A reminder to never take life for granted. Hopefully Dwayne's family, friends, and teammates find comfort and peace in the days ahead.

Some other key changes this offseason start with the retirement of franchise legend Ben Roethlisberger. A cornerstone of the franchise since he was drafted in that infamous 2004 draft after Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. A two time Super Bowl champion, he retired with the 5th most passing yards in NFL history and his career .710 winning percentage as a starter is the fourth highest of all time. I've had a love/hate relationship with Ben over the years. While supremely talented on the field, I felt he left much to be desired in terms of leadership and being a good teammate. Not to mention his other off the field issues, which at least subsided after the first few years of his career. There's multiple blogs that could be written to go through Ben's whole career, but for now there's not much more to be said about the guy, except thanks for the memories 7.

Credit: AP

Now onto the moves.

Key Departures:

Ben Roethlisberger - QB

Josh Dobbs - QB

JuJu Smith-Schuster - WR

James Washington - WR

Ray-Ray McCloud - WR

Eric Ebron - TE (likely)

Trai Turner - G

Joe Haden - CB

For the most part I am ok with these departures. I'm glad to get rid of JuJu and the drama that's comes along with him. Unfortunately from everything I've seen, it appears to have spread to Chase Claypool. I'm a bit disappointed to see James Washington go. He's a solid depth receiver who I feel we never got the full potential out of. Weird thing to say about the Steelers organization, one that seems to just create star wide receivers out of thin air. It's also tough to see Joe Haden go, but at this point in his career he either comes back on a team friendly deal, or you just have to let him walk. Lastly there's Ben's retirement which was inevitable and honestly probably a few years overdue.

Key Additions:

Mitchell Trubisky - QB

Kenny Pickett - QB

George Pickens - WR

Gunner Olszewski - WR

Mason Cole - C

James Daniels - G

Myles Jack - LB

Levi Wallace - CB

Damontae Kazee - S

Nothing to write home about, but I believe all solid moves in the right direction. Kenny Pickett and George Pickens (I initially typed George Pickett, gonna take some attention to detail) obviously being the key takeaways from the draft. I propose we nickname this duo PP (haha). Jokes aside this is potentially the new version of Big Ben and AB. Pickett may not win the job over Trubisky this year, but he is the expected cornerstone of this franchise moving forward. Being the only QB taken prior to the 3rd round at #20, the pressure will be amplified on him to prove the organization did not reach picking him in the first round. With a stacked QB position in the AFC, even more pressure will be on him as his career progresses. At 24 years old the clock will begin ticking fast for him. George Pickens will likely be facing pressure to produce right away, but I believe he has the skillset and mentality to be ready for the challenge.

Trubisky was essentially a signing of the only viable QB left on the market. Personally I was riding on the Aaron Rodgers to Pittsburgh train ever since he and Coach Tomlin gave each-other a little wink last season, but it was not to be. Trubisky will be a fine bridge QB, which is all he was brought in to be with the 2-year deal he signed. I believe he will be the starter for most if not all of this season, unless his play devolves to the point where the organization is forced to start Pickett. Kenny could also wow the team in camp and take the starting job away from Mitch outright. If I were to bet though, I'd say Mitch wins out a close QB battle in camp.

I like the signings of Mason Cole and James Daniels for the O-line simply for the fact that they can't make it any worse than it was last year. The one thing that I think could have been focused on a bit more this offseason is the line, but I understand why the front office decided to do what it did with it's cap space and draft capital.

I like the additions we've made defensively. Myles Jack should help solidify the linebacking corps that had found itself a bit thin the past few years thanks to injuries. Jack struggled a bit these last few seasons, but he played in Jacksonville. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he'll play much better behind a solid defensive line filled with the likes of Cam Heyward and TJ Watt. Levi Wallace is a solid corner who will help fill the hole left by Haden. Kazee will likely be battling for a depth role with Edmunds and Minkah already anchoring the saftey roles. Edmunds signed a 1 year deal and will be in a prove it contract year.

Overall this offseason has been both hectic and business as usual at the same time. A franchise cornerstone retiring, an unfortunate passing, the selection of the potential next franchise QB, and some average free agency moves. In terms of drafting and free agency decisions I will give this offseason a B rating. Nothing crazy, but should be solid enough and won't hamper the teams ability to make moves moving forward. I believe that should be the main takeaway from this offseason. The front office focused more on setting us up for the next few offseasons, rather than going all in on this season.

Grade: B

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