After the way things ended in 2023, we know that the Pittsburgh Steelers cannot simply 'run it back' next year with the same group of guys. Though Mike Tomlin rallied his team to win three straight games to end the season and make the playoffs (with a little help from the Titans), this team was the biggest underdog in the Wild Card Round and had by far the lowest odds to win the Super Bowl among all playoffs teams this season.
A lot of change needs to occur, and I think that Tomlin is finally starting to recognize that. The Steelers are beginning by searching for an offensive coordinator hire outside of the organization (which goes against what they have done in previous years).
In addition to this, Pittsburgh clearly needs to retool its roster. There are some obvious cuts they will make during the offseason, but other players they could be on the fence with. Here are three players on the Steelers roster who shouldn't be back next year, but probably will be.
1. Patrick Peterson, CB
Patrick Peterson has had a remarkable NFL career, but his fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers was very unusual from the beginning. Peterson was already in his 30s when he joined the Minnesota Vikings back in 2021. Though his play was still respectable at times and he was able to take the ball away, it was clear that Peterson was only a 'zone' CB.
Meanwhile, the Steelers like to run a lot of man coverage under DC Teryl Austin (who just finalized a two-year extension with the team, by the way). This is no longer Peterson's game at all, as he just doesn't have the speed and quickness to stick with wide receivers who are a decade younger at this point.
Not only that, but Peterson has a substantial cap number of $9.775 million in 2024, according to Over the Cap. This is a number that should have him cut. Instead, the Steelers could give him an extension that tacks on a few voidable years to lower his 2024 cap hit.
I will say that Peterson was far from the most egregious player in Pittsburgh's secondary last season, but he's certainly not worth that type of money at this point. Peterson turns 34 years old in February, and there's no reason to expect a player on his last legs to be better in 2024 than he was last year.