4 questions Steelers still need to answer before the summer

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
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Is another inside linebacker needed for passing downs?

As previously discussed, the Steelers have most of their starting positions figured out. But what about some of the situational roles? Slot corner is essentially a starting position in today’s NFL, but a linebacker that is not a liability in coverage is also becoming a crucial role. Unless they’re facing five wide receivers, the Steelers will likely have at least two off-ball inside linebackers on the field on any given snap. 

Even though Pittsburgh remade their inside linebacker room this offseason, they still need one who can be trusted on passing downs. They replaced Myles Jack, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane with Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, and Tanner Muse. Holcomb could be an every-down starter, but Roberts and the returning Mark Robinson are early-down run stuffers. Muse had some decent reps last year down the stretch and is a converted safety, but he only has 125 career snaps on defense. 

This was a position some expected the Steelers to address in the draft, but the board didn’t fall their way. So can they survive with a converted safety with less than 200 snaps to his name, a second-year player who appeared in three games as a rookie, or the veteran whose career passer rating when targeted is 114.2? It’s hard to imagine they will make the attempt. 

Therefore, what are the remaining options? They could bring in a free agent, but they only have about $8 million available. That’s probably not enough to sign the likes of Zach Cunningham, Cory Littleton, or Rashaan Evans. Alternatively, they could choose a more situational option, similar to slot corner.

One possibility would be playing Keanu Neal as an inside linebacker somewhere he actually has experience. This would have to be on very obvious passing downs, so Neal would not be a liability as a run defender. But he would be much better in coverage than any other options.