Football is over for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now the focus moves to the business side of things.
The NFL’s free agency period begins a little bit later than normal this year and it won’t come until March 15th. That’s good news for the Steelers because they have a lot of difficult decisions to make, with several key players set to hit the market.
According to Spotrac.com, no less than 28 players on Pittsburgh’s current roster will become free agents, and 21 of them will be unrestricted and free to sign anywhere.
Here is a breakdown of the players who will be fair game come free agency:
Mitchell Van Dyk
As you can see, most of the important names are up front on offense and in the defensive backfield.
Despite dealing with a number of injuries, Pittsburgh’s offensive line did a pretty fantastic job this season. They made everyone from LeVeon Bell to DeAngelo Williams and Jordan Todman look good in the run game and for the most part they kept Ben Roethlisberger off his back. Keeping that unit together as much as possible should be a high priority for the Steelers front office.
The really difficult decisions are in the secondary, which was easily the weakest point on the roster during the 2015 season. We won’t belabor the point: the Steelers did not defend the pass well and it cost them games. The question is knowing which pieces to keep and which to move on from.
Brandon Boykin came on strong when he was given playing time later on in the year and Will Allen may have been the unit’s most reliable player. The rest of them represent a series of question marks. Ross Cockrell showed flashes of potential but he also got burned for touchdowns on a few occasisons. Antwon Blake and William Gay are playmakers but their coverage skills leave a lot to be desired.
If Kevin Colbert gets it right, he can fix Pittsburgh’s greatest weakness and go into the 2016 season with a legitimate Super Bowl contender. If he doesn’t then this team has already hit its ceiling.