The Baltimore Ravens are making a splash early in the offseason. Here’s why the Steelers can’t afford to do the same to improve their team.
The Steelers would love nothing more than to bolster their roster in a rapidly closing Super Bowl window. Ben Roethlisberger is 38 years old and is coming off a major elbow injury that cost him his 2019 after just a game-and-a-half of play.
While there are high hopes for Pittsburgh with the return of Big Ben in 2020, other rivals teams will be able to do much more this offseason. Recently, the AFC North Champion Baltimore Ravens traded for Jaguars star defensive lineman, Calais Campbell. Here are the details according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Jaguars and Ravens have agreed to a trade in principle that would send Pro Bowl DE Calais Campbell to Baltimore for a 2020 fifth-round pick, per sources. Campbell will try to finalize an extension with Baltimore.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2020
Though he is now 33 years old, Calais Cambell graded out as the second-best edge defender in the NFL last season with an overall grade of 90.3, according to Pro Football Focus. Though the Ravens will be asked to take on his $17.5 million cap hit, a fifth-round draft choice for a star defensive lineman like Campbell is still a steal of a deal.
This is a double blow to the Steelers. Not only is their biggest rival making major improvements early in free agency, but they don’t have the finances on their own end to improve their team.
Thanks to Ben Roethlisberger’s extension last season, the Steelers are currently dead last in the NFL in cap space as they sit at $219K in the hole, according to Over the Cap. Pittsburgh has made it a priority to retain the services of Bud Dupree, but even handing him the franchise tag this season will be a challenge.
In order to retain some of their own players, the Steelers will be forced to make cuts. Though they were able to bring in players like Steven Nelson, Mark Barron, and Donte Moncrief last season, it doesn’t appear that they will have the firepower to make moves like that anytime soon.
Calais Campbell is still going strong into his 30s, and he has managed 39.5 sacks over the past four seasons. The big defensive end stands to be a rock-solid addition to a defensive line that already includes Pro Bowl nose tackle, Brandon Williams. The unfortunate reality is that the Steelers will not be able to do the same.
Even with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Steelers will be lucky to retain everyone not named Javon Hargrave this offseason. With no money to spare, the Steelers will rely on the NFL Draft to add talent for the 2020 season. Let’s hope they hit on a few gems this year.