There’s another way the Pittsburgh Steelers can approach the offseason

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Morgan Burnett
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Morgan Burnett /

Morgan Burnett would require a lot of sacrifice, but it’s worth it for the Pittsburgh Steelers to consider the safety in free agency.

Conversation surronding the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason has gone one direction – release Mike Mitchell, draft a safety and either draft or sign an inside linebacker to replace Ryan Shazier. Then, make room for Le’Veon Bell and sign him to a major deal.

Well, what if they did something different. Looking through the amount of talent at running back and inside linebacker in the first two rounds of the draft, and seeing one BIG name in free agency, Pittsburgh can easily adjust their approach to the offseason.

Why not sign Morgan Burnett? The free safety wouldn’t just fill the hole Mitchell has created in the secondary, but restructure the way this defense is looked at.

It wasn’t what Burnett did this offseason, but the presence he brought that made him a star. He’s become so dominant that quarterbacks don’t throw his way. Somehow, though, he’s always involved in plays.

His 68 tackles through 12 games last season shows the impact. Green Bay’s defense was nothing to take serious, and still their safety solidified himself as the hottest name at his position.

Now, he’s looking for a pay day. Burnett is first on the list of free agent defensive backs and is going to get paid. Something Pittsburgh should be thrilled about.

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Right now, the Steelers are clearing cap space for Le’Veon Bell’s long-term deal. If they want a realistic chance of bringing back the All-Pro running back, they’re looking at somewhere around $14 million a year.

Burnett is looking somewhere around $10 million. The Steelers’ cap space right now is roughly $9.125 million. After cutting Mitchell, they could clear up somewhere around another $8.1 million.

Instead of handing most of that to Le’Veon Bell and an inside linebacker, Pittsburgh can focus on defense. Signing Burnett with $10 million and then looking into a linebacker worthy of decent money.

After Mitchell is gone and Burnett is signed, the Steelers could still have around $7 million in cap room. Instead of looking at names like Gerald Hodges, they can attempt to sign Avery Williamson with most of the remaining cap space.

Which brings us to the NFL Draft. It’s easy to change it up here. No. 28 goes to Derrius Guice out of LSU and No. 60 they target an inside linebacker.

Guice is one of the best athletes the NFL Draft has seen in years. His explosiveness, physicality and insane playmaking ability is something every NFL team wishes they could consider drafting. Pittsburgh can, and if they’re thinking of ways to finally finish this team for the future, it’s something they need to think seriously about.

At No. 60, Josey Jewell would be absolutely perfect. The second-round linebacker could be a star in the NFL, but may need time to adjust.

His play at Iowa stood out in the Big Ten. 132 tackles and 13.5 sacks certainly looks like a future playmaker, but experts still have questions on whether or not he’s going to translate well in the beginning.

Making him the perfect second round pick for Pittsburgh. Sitting behind Williamson, Jowell will develop into whatever level his potential is going to take him to. After drafting Guice in the first, both needs after signing Burnett are Williamson are taken care of.

Then, if Pittsburgh really wanted to take advantage of their assets, franchise tagging Bell isn’t too critical of an idea.

Bell would never play for Pittsburgh if they drafted a first-round back and tagged him. That shouldn’t even be a thought. But trading him would be worth some serious names and/or draft picks.

Make the move before the draft and Pittsburgh can easily pull of a first-rounder and a second-rounder, plus more. With a good enough deal, they could be looking at a first-round running back and inside linebacker, plus the ability to approach the idea of maybe a quarterback in the second, depending on who’s available.

Pittsburgh actually doing this is less than likely. They’re a conservative team who doesn’t spend money in free agency, or make moves in the draft.

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If Bell negotiations aren’t going to well, though, and they decide it’s time to move on from a situation that isn’t working out, this is definitely an option. Knowing Bell’s firm approach to negotiating, this has a better chance of happening than most would think.