Pittsburgh Steelers resigning key role players in early days of free agency

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Marcus Gilbert #77 of the Pittsburgh Steelers spikes the football after a touchdown by Roosevelt Nix #45 in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 25, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Marcus Gilbert #77 of the Pittsburgh Steelers spikes the football after a touchdown by Roosevelt Nix #45 in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 25, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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In the early days of free agency the Pittsburgh Steelers have begun retaining the talents of key role players for the team. Let’s review where things stand.

The Steelers have already started to dip their toe into the offseason waters. Nothing that should make waves but they’re just doing their due diligence at this point.

It’s starting off like any other Steelers offseason. In fact, we seem to be reliving the same offseason for near a decade, Although, to be fair, the Steelers have been more active the past couple years, so far they’re doing what needs done, no more and no less.

It’s far too early to make any assessment as to the quality of Pittsburgh’s offseason moves. However, it’s not too early to summarize them. So here are the most notable offseason moves the Steelers have done so far this season.

Roosevelt Nix – 4 year deal

Probably the biggest of these small moves and certainly the greatest show of confidence in a returning player thus far, aside from giving the ol’ franchise tag to Bell. Roosevelt Nix has had quite a ride as a pro. He started as a prospect whose size and speed made him difficult to place. Too short for a linebacker or tight end, to small for a lineman, not fast enough for a back. What kept him alive as a prospect was his ability to hit really hard.

He eventually found his way to the Steelers as a special teams player and occasional fullback. From there, it was obvious it was just a matter of time before others took notice of what he brought to the table. After a few years of blasting open holes for Le’Veon Bell he got himself to the Pro-Bowl as an alternate.

The Steelers were smart to sign him to a long term deal just as he reached the cusp of his potential. For the next half decade at least, in the prime of his career, the Steelers will have one of the best fullbacks in the league, and an ace special teams player as a bonus.

Jordan Berry – 1 year deal

Jordan Berry has done a serviceable job as punter during his tenure. He doesn’t have the most powerful leg but he’s got good accuracy. The Steelers don’t want to let him go and have to deal with a training camp of two or three punters fighting it out and hoping at least one pans out.

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However, odds are good the Steelers will sign a punter somewhere along the line to challenge Berry. The Steelers can live with what they have in Berry. They could do better, but they could certainly do worse.

B.J. Finney – 1 year deal

Finney, like Nix before him, was a player who rose above the other undrafted free agents of his class on the strength of his fierce hitting. Since that time he’s added some size and grown in technique as well under the capable tutelage of Mike Munchak. He’s looking to step up into that super back up offensive lineman the Steelers like to have around.

So if Chris Hubbard has to leave or moves up to a starting roll full time, the Steelers have their eye on Finney to fill that roll like Hubbard did, and Ramon Foster Kelvin Beachum before him.

Xavier Grimble – 1 year deal

Xavier Grimble had some big games, and he also had some slow games, and he also had some games where he was on the sideline injured. This extra year he gets with the black and gold represents the hope of the Steelers have that he can more consistently achieve those better moments. He can certainly be an asset at tight end. He and Jesse James could be a formidable duo, but they’ve got to put it all together.

Mike Hilton – 1 year deal

The parade of 1 year deals continues. Some represent a last chance, others represent a second look, others a tepid pat on the back for a job well done. Hilton was undrafted. The Jaguars took a look, weren’t interested. Then the Patriots took a look, weren’t interested. Lucky for us because Pittsburgh got 64 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 interceptions out of the deal.

Hilton didn’t play his rookie year but certainly made a splash in 2017. With production like that, in a secondary that struggles on occasion, it’s a little surprising Hilton didn’t get a bigger deal. Maybe they expect one of their many prospects to pop or to throw some more draft picks at the position. But if next year is anything like this, Hilton will get a much longer contract, assuming other teams don’t take notice and snap him up.

Next: 5 reasons the Steelers need Le'Veon Bell

That’s where it stands so far. Of course, there’s a dozen or so future/reserve contracts out there for prospects. We’re in the calm before the storm but the Steelers have started to rumble a bit and secure some peripheral players.