The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into an offseason filled with questions.
2018 isn’t going to be a very relaxed year for the Pittsburgh Steelers or their fans. Plenty of questions remain with the team many believed to be complete heading into the 2017 season.
The season didn’t go as planned, though, and now, Pittsburgh is here. Watching the Super Bowl from home, trying to figure out how they’re going to replace some players and deciding how they handle signing others.
Pittsburgh really only have two major questions to answer – How do we replace Ryan Shazier? And what do we do with Le’Veon Bell?
But, hey, at least Ben Roethlisberger is coming back.
Really, though, answering these questions is easy. For the second year in a row, the NFL Draft is loaded with talent. Maybe more than last year, which gives Pittsburgh plenty of options to answer their first question.
Replacing Ryan Shazier is nearly impossible. The inside linebacker is one of the best in the league, only four years into his career. Each season it wasn’t as though he was slowly getting better, but that he become twice as elite every season.
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His future will remain unknown for awhile. Honestly, no one really cares if he plays again, after watching him go through what he’s already dealt with, being able to walk again and live a normal life is all everyone is concerned about.
Unfortunately, for the Steelers, that means it’s time to find someone new. In this year’s draft class, there are a few options Pittsburgh has in the first round.
The big three Pittsburgh should eye with the 28th pick are all worthy of a first round nod. Malik Jefferson of Texas, Leighton Van Esch of Boise State and Alabama’s Rahsaan Evans could all be sitting around during Pittsburgh’s first pick.
If that’s the case, there’s no question the Steelers need to jump on one. Which of the three are available, and of them who Pittsburgh sees fit won’t be known till closer to April. But knowing there are options all seemingly talented enough to fill the void at middle linebacker next season.
Then, there’s Le’Veon Bell. This one seems to be more drama-filled than it needs to be. Bell wants money. A lot of it. Pittsburgh wasn’t willing to give it to him last year, understandably so. He was coming off a number of injuries, couldn’t seem to stay healthy into the playoffs and was asking for way more than he was worth last offseason.
Today, he’s worth every penny. Bell is hands down one of the top three most impactful players in the NFL (Antonio Brown, Tom Brady). You give anyone else the ball nearly 400 times in a season and they aren’t doing what Bell was able to, yet again.
He’s proven he can stay healthy and dominate the field. Now, he just needs to get paid.
Pittsburgh has already offered Bell an extension, and according to Mark Kaboly, the two sides are closer than last year. How close that actually is hard to tell right now, but hearing good signs from Bell is a start Pittsburgh and the fans are happy about.
The Steelers know you cannot take Bell away from this team. The Killer B’s are easily the best offensive trio in the NFL. Remove any one of them and it’s a major loss to the production of this unit.
Roethlisberger didn’t come back for nothing. He, along with everyone else on the roster, wants Bell back. That doesn’t mean Pittsburgh needs to hand him $40 million, but they could find a contract meeting his $30 million over two years with an escape route after the second season.
That way you put the ball in Bell’s court and allow him to make the decision. With the weapons this team has and the potential in 2018, chances are he’d take the money and come back trying to win a Super Bowl.
Then, Pittsburgh is ready. Work out a few contracts, look for a missing piece of two in free agency, even though everyone knows the Steelers aren’t going to sign anyone big, and this team is set.
Yes, it’s two questions that can make or break the future of this organization, but it’s only two questions. As long as they play everyone smart, but are willing to work and push a little to make things work, Pittsburgh is in good shape next year.
Nothing is going to happen right now. But as the offseason progresses, the Steelers should be able to solve the two issues before the summer.