The Pittsburgh Steelers have been doing a patchwork job for too long, and the results are starting to catch up with them. They could use a true rebuild year.
If you are part of a crowd that still believes the Pittsburgh Steelers still have a championship-caliber roster, you might be offended by what I have to say. As much as I would like to believe this is true, Mike Tomlin’s team is simply lacking talent in several important positions. This void of talent makes them an average team at best.
There are several reasons why this appears to be the case. For starters, the Steelers simply haven’t drafted very well. Since 2015, they have spent 6 selections in the first or second round on players who flat-out busted. Other high draft choices did not make it to their second contract with Pittsburgh.
The lack of draft capital has also been hurting them. Instead of trying to think ahead to the future and stockpile draft picks, Tomlin makes his best effort to stay competitive each season. By doing so, however, he routinely trades away draft picks for stop-gap players he believes can help his team right away (Vance McDonald, Avery Williamson, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Joe Schobert are just a few examples of this).
Likewise, the Steelers have been making short-sighted moves in free agency. Instead of going after a cornerstone player who they could build their team around (like J.C. Jackson), Pittsburgh has routinely pieced out their money to serviceable stop-gap starters who fill a need. However, more often than not, these players have little impact above replacement value.
Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have done this all too often in the past — signing players like Eric Ebron, Trai Turner, Donte Moncrief, or Arthur Maulet. This year, the team spread their money out to players like Myles Jack, Levi Wallace, Larry Ogunjobi, James Daniels, and Mason Cole. Chances are, only one or two of these players will be around long-term, and they may not have any who prove to be Pro Bowl-caliber.
Steelers could use a true ‘rebuild year’
Trying to keep their nose above water is only going to work for so long. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had too much roster turnover and are relying on washed-up free agents to do the jobs their draft picks should be doing.
To fix this and get the team back on track, the Steelers could benefit from an actual rebuild year — not just a ‘retooling’ offseason where they do another patchwork job. Pittsburgh could use some high draft choices to give this team some foundational players to build around.
In addition to missing in the draft, the Steelers have also taken the wrong approach. Instead of targeting the ‘money’ positions (like the trenches), they have spent first-round picks on positions like an off-ball linebacker, safety, and running back — not exactly the best team-building strategy.
The Steelers could use some quantity when it comes to draft selections as well. Instead of trading their mid-round picks away for veterans who aren’t working out on other teams, they should go the other way for once. Perhaps they should trade some veterans who won’t be part of the long-term plan in order to stockpile draft picks and build their team through the draft.
Nobody wants to have to live through a true rebuild, but we have seen good teams do this and get back on top quickly (the Eagles are a great example). Without having a true rebuild season, I’m not sure how the Steelers expect to truly improve their roster for the future.