What I would do as Steelers general manager for just one day

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert . Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert . Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers General Manager job would be challenging and intriguing even if it lasted only one day. Here are the moves I would make.

I am sure that I am not alone in my desire to be the Steelers General Manager.  Like other fans, I never played football past the high school level, but I am as ardent a fan as there exists.  With the 2021 NFL league year and free agency officially starting at 4 PM on March 17th, I thought about how cool it would be to be able to call the shots for a day.

‘Cool’ is perhaps not the best word to describe the utter exhilaration I would feel being the GM for a day, but I could be mistaken.  Maybe the job is not all that glamorous; maybe the job is incredibly trying and taxing, who knows?  One thing is certain:  I will never have a point of reference as I am almost positive that the Steelers will not hire me to succeed Kevin Colbert, our current GM who has been our GM for the past 21 seasons.

This time of the year poses certain and specific challenges, e.g. restructuring contracts to free up cap space, deciding which free agents to either re-sign or let test the market, deciding which players to extend, and finalizing the travel schedule for those scouts and/or front office personnel who will be attending Pro Days.

While the above no doubt represents a ‘full plate’ of work, if I had only one day to accomplish anything, those 24 hours would realistically boil down to about 15 to 16 hours of functional time, meaning that I would have to work as efficiently as I possibly could to accomplish what we are about to discuss.  So, without further ado, here we go.

What I would try to accomplish in one day as the Steelers General Manager

First things first, I would assure that I have an ample supply of coffee and snacks because it’s going to be a long day.  I would start the day by assessing where we currently stand with the salary cap thanks to Ben Roethlisberger, our franchise and future Hall of Fame QB, who did us a solid by re-working his deal to sign an extremely team-friendly contract.

While we still have some work to do with respect to the cap, the Steelers are at least in a position to think about re-signing some of our own free agents, but we also need to think about extending some players, like T.J Watt, our All-Pro OLB and Minkah Fitzpatrick, our All-Pro Safety.

We do not want to have to use the franchise tag on either Watt or Fitzpatrick, so more contracts need to be restructured to free up additional cap space.  Frankly, any player whom the Steelers deem as ‘go forward’ players would be asked, via their agents, of course, if they would be interested in restructuring their deals.

The next order of business would be to re-sign some of our own free agents with the new-found salary cap we just created.  Top priority would be given to re-signing Mike Hilton, our designated blitzing CB, JuJu Smith-Schuster, our former second-round pick in 2017, and Alejandro Villanueva.  Personally, I believe Villanueva may be the most important free agent to re-sign, but all three of the above mentioned would be priority re-signings for me.

The last act of the long day would be to meet with the coaching staff and with the scouts and collectively put our ‘battle’ plan together for the upcoming draft.  While this is not an exact science if the aforementioned free-agent signings come to fruition, our draft strategy will come into focus…no reaching, no drafting for need.  The marching orders will be to draft the best player available, as it always should be.

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With that accomplished, I will turn off the lights, pack up my stuff, and head home knowing that I did what I could to cement my legacy, albeit a short-lived one.