The Steelers have eighteen players whose contracts will expire at the start of the new league year on Wednesday, March 9th.
The final group of potential free agents is also arguably the position of greatest need for the Steelers this offseason. The Steelers have needed to upgrade their secondary for quite some time and while they haven’t necessarily intended to neglect it; the group needs and will get a bit of a facelift this offseason.
Whether there are players that leave via free agency, salary cap cuts or come from the draft this unit could look markedly different than it did this season and for good reason. For a defense that returned to the style of getting sacks and turnovers they made a habit of giving up yards, specifically through the air.
Whether or not they can actually improve the secondary remains to be seen. As good as they’ve been with drafting and developing wide receivers they’ve been the complete opposite with defensive backs; with some few exceptions.
The Steelers haven’t had a Pro Bowl cornerback since Rod Woodson in 1996 and haven’t had a Pro Bowl safety since Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark both made it in 2011. Last offseason the Steelers drafted three cornerbacks but cut two of them, including fourth-round pick Doran Grant, who made it back onto the roster via the practice squad but didn’t play.
The Steelers have also made some questionable trades and contract extensions when it comes to the secondary like signing Cortez Allen to a five-year, $26 million contract in the summer of 2014 and trading a fifth-round pick to Philadelphia for Brandon Boykin only to use him on mainly special teams during the season.
Next: Will Allen