One reason why 2022 offseason may be most important in Steelers history
By Eric Hassel
The Steelers are heading into the 2022 offseason with uncertainty and perhaps not a lot of clarity
To say that these are unprecedented times for the Steelers would be an understatement. We are heading into the 2022 offseason without a franchise QB for the time since 2004, with a new defensive coordinator, with a second-year offensive coordinator, with a new offensive line coach, and with a General Manager who will be stepping down after the draft.
If those four things don’t scare you at least a little bit, you must have ice in your veins. Look, I know the Steelers are an organization that prides itself on continuity and consistency, but this is the first time in almost two decades that we may not have a clear path forward.
Here’s what I mean by that: From a continuity standpoint, Mike Tomlin is still our head coach and that’s great, but as I mentioned earlier, we have a lot of either new faces or faces in new roles, we need to find our next franchise QB unless one of our current QBs can ascend to that role and we have glaring holes to fill on both side of the ball.
The Steelers will have to draft well and sign quality free agents to be competitive in 2022
So here is, in my opinion, the one reason the 2022 offseason may be the most important in Steelers history: If Super Bowl LVI showed us anything, it showed us that you need an elite, franchise QB and an elite defense to win in today’s NFL. I think we have the makings of an elite defense.
The question mark, the ubiquitous question mark, lies with the QB position. Let’s assume we are interested in drafting a QB in 2022, is there a franchise-caliber QB in this draft class? If we believe there is, are we committed to anointing him the starter on opening day of the 2022 season?
If we don’t believe there is a franchise-caliber QB in this draft class and, as an aside, I am not entirely sure there is one, do we got the free-agent route? With so many holes to fill on both sides of the ball, e.g. offensive line, defensive line depth, corner, safety, and inside linebacker to name a few, do we really want to spend our free-agent dollars on a veteran QB who may not be any better than who we currently have?
Personally, I think how the Steelers approach free agency will dictate what we do in the draft. If we stick to the Steelers way in free agency, meaning we don’t sign ‘big name’ free agents, our only avenue to improve the team will be the draft and undrafted free-agent signings.
The Steelers historically have built the team through the draft, but with Kevin Colbert retiring after the draft, who knows how much input or influence he will have during the draft process. If that’s the case, who will wield the most power in the ‘war room’? I would assume it would be Tomlin, but is that really the best approach?
I think we could go on and on about the uncertainty the Steelers are facing in 2022, but the point of our discussion is this: We are on the precipice of either becoming a Super Bowl contender or becoming a Super Bowl pretender. What the Steelers do in the next couple of months will provide us with the answer.