10 Bold Predictions for the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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When it comes to offseason predictions, the Pittsburgh Steelers are somewhat hard to pin down. It doesn’t help that they play in the AFC, which is unequivocally the more loaded of the two conferences. They also play in the AFC North, arguably the best division in the NFL.

Mike Tomlin is one of the longest-tenured and most respected coaches in the league but hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016. Kenny Pickett seized the starting quarterback job last year, but his statistics are a far cry from the other quarterbacks in his division, let alone the conference. 

On the other hand, this team has two of the best defensive players in the entire league T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. They also have a very young core of offensive playmakers and an offensive line chock full of high-value investments. As previously mentioned, Tomlin consistently gets the best out of his teams. So the realms of possibility concerning Pittsburgh’s upcoming 2023 season are exceptionally wide. Therefore, here are ten bold predictions about the Steelers. 

Alex Highsmith Signs Contract Extension before Week 1

Coming off a career season, Alex Highsmith is entering a contract year and could be due for a big payday. Going into the last two seasons, the Steelers have locked down two players to major contract extensions in T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Those two players were the best at their positions, however. While Highsmith is a very good player, he won’t command nearly the salary of Watt or Fitzpatrick. According to Spotrac, he’s looking at a contract in the neighborhood of four years for $56 million. 

Currently, the Steelers have about $12 million in cap space and are projected to be about $6 million over the cap when the 2024 league year begins. Therefore, Omar Khan will need to work some serious magic to get the numbers to work. But unlike most other teams in serious playoff contention in the AFC, the Steelers are still operating with a starting quarterback on his rookie deal. The Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, and Browns all gave their quarterbacks massive deals. The Bengals, Chargers, and Dolphins are staring down the barrel of needing to sign their quarterbacks to long-term extensions. 

Even though Omar Khan is breaking some of the Steelers' traditions regarding contract negotiation, I still expect him to get this deal done before the season starts. Highsmith represents everything the Steelers want their team to be about. He was a former walk-on who turned into a mid-round draft pick and then developed into a plus-starter and a top-20 player at his position. Even though the Steelers might be able to get a third-round compensatory pick in 2025 if Highsmith left, bringing him back to be Watt’s running mate (and future successor) is a better long-term plan.