4 ways the Steelers have failed during the early free agency

Mike Hilton Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Mike Hilton Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton (28). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Losing Hilton

Just to be clear, I wasn’t expecting the Steelers to re-sign Mike Hilton this year. This isn’t due to his talent, as he is a great player, but I expected his cost to be closer to the 8-10 million dollars per year range. In the end, he signed with the Bengals for only 6 million a year. At that price, it is surprising that the team didn’t make a significant push to try and retain Hilton.

Had Hilton signed a deal for similar money with the Steelers, he would have had a first-year cap hit of only 2.5 million dollars. That could have fit under the cap easily with a Tuitt restructure or a Williams release or the team could have opted to keep Sutton over Hilton straight up. That isn’t to say the Sutton deal is bad in hindsight, but Hilton is the superior slot option (Sutton has the leg up as he can play the outside).

Knowing now that Hilton was going to be that cheap, it would have made a lot of sense for the Steelers to retain both of these players. It would have kept the group deep for one more year as well as giving the team option after next season. Odds are, Joe Haden will not be on the roster a year from now, so having Hilton in the slot and Sutton ready for the outside would have been relieving. Again, his contract came in under what most thought it would, but the Steelers really needed to make a stronger push for Hilton.

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While the three moves the Steelers have made in free agency have been solid, overall, the early results were less than favorable. The team didn’t need to sign a top free agent or bring back all of their departing players but allowing some of those middle-tier guys to go will hurt next season. The team certainly has a long way to go if they want to be a competitor in 2021.