Grading every notable move from the Steelers 2024 offseason

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The brunt of the Steelers offseason moves is done, and I wanted to provide my grades for the work that this team did ahead of the 2024 season. I’ll be looking at all of their notable signings, trades, and their draft as a whole to provide a final grade for the team. Here are my 2024 offseason grades for the Steelers.

Steelers trade away Diontae Johnson, acquire Donte Jackson

Grade: D

I really want to be ok with this trade, and on the surface, I don’t hate the addition of Donte Jackson to this secondary. My issue isn’t even getting rid of Diontae Johnson, as he wasn’t a great fit for this offense. The issue is that the Steelers got worse on paper and failed to acquire anything to help replace Johnson this year.

This receiver room is one of the worst in the league, and even for an offense that wants to run the ball a lot, the room is one George Pickens injury away from collapsing. This team did little to replace him (more on that below) and while Jackson is a fine player, he isn’t as good as Johnson. The small bit of cap savings was a plus, but overall this was one of the worst moves from this offseason.

Steelers sign Russell Wilson

Grade: A

I have a love/hate relationship with this move. On one hand, Russell Wilson is an obvious improvement to the quarterback room and should provide this team with their best quarterback play since Ben Roethlisberger. On the other hand, he isn’t a long-term solution and the quarterback issues will likely resurface for this team sooner than later.

That said, for the veteran minimum it is impossible to grade this move poorly. Even if Wilson flops, he will have cost the team next to nothing. My only issue is that this is a very temporary band-aid, but at the cost of the deal, I can’t be that upset.

Steelers sign Patrick Queen

Grade: B+

I am admittedly not as high on this signing as most. Patrick Queen was a very mediocre player until he wasn’t the centerpiece with Roquan Smith on the roster. I’m not sure he will live up to this deal because of that fact.

That said, his age gives me some hope, and the structure of this deal is fantastic. If Queen regresses and plays poorly, you can cut him next season with relative ease. I can’t grade this move that poorly for that reason, even if I am skeptical as to just how effective he will be this season.

Steelers sign DeShon Elliot

Grade: B-

This is a tough contract for me to grade. On the one hand, I think Deshon Elliot is a good player and won’t cost this team that much. On the other hand, the safety market was devalued once again this year, and I feel like the team could have gotten a better player for just a little more money. That said, his fit and play style is a good fit for this defense.

Steelers trade away Kenny Pickett

Grade: B-

After the signing of Wilson, the writing was on the wall for Kenny Pickett. With the Steelers seemingly closing the door on him being their future, I was fine with trading him now, as you can maximize what little value he still had. Waiting another season would have yielded far less.

That said, it is tough to accept that your former first-round pick only netted you a pick swap this year in addition to some seventh-round picks next year. Pittsburgh made the most of the swap, landing a potential starter in Payton Wilson, but it would have been nicer to get a bit more for him. That said, holding unto him for one more year would have killed his trade value.

Steelers trade for Justin Fields

Grade: A+

This has to go down as the best value for the Steelers during this entire offseason. Justin Fields has had his share of highs and lows while with the Bears, but the potential is there that he could be a true franchise option for this team. Even if it doesn’t work out, you are only risking a sixth-round pick next year to see him play.

While that pick could become a fourth-round selection, if that happens it probably means that Fields had a decent season for the team and won the starting job. If he doesn’t pan out, you don’t lose much. The value makes it hard to dislike this trade.

Steelers sign Cameron Johnston

Grade: C+

This was a needed, but very average, move for the Steelers. Cameron Johnston has been a good punter, and this team was desperate for a consistent face there. I would have liked Tommy Townsend at the same price, but Johnston is fine. Given the price, this is nothing exceptional although it fills a big need.

Steelers sign Miles Killebrew

Grade: B

A minor move this offseason, but one that was certainly needed. The Steelers retained Miles Killebrew following another astounding season on special teams. While he can hold his own on the occasional defensive snap, his calling card is special teams and he plays that well.

The team notably lost two core special teams players in Miles Boykin and James Pierre, so keeping Killebrew around was a must. It was at a slightly higher cost than you may have wanted, but he plays an important role for this team.

Steelers sign a handful of receivers

Grade: B

These are grades specific to the contracts of these players and not to the fact that this team has failed to properly address the room post-Johnson. I can’t grade veteran minimum deals poorly, as they cost you essentially nothing. Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins, and Scotty Miller are all cheap and fighting for a roster spot.

While I would have liked for a more notable name to come in, I can’t unfairly grade this trio on what is essentially a tryout contract. The hope seems to be that one of them gain some momentum in the room, but nothing is lost if they can’t do that.

Steelers sign Kyle Allen

Grade: A

A veteran benefit deal for a quarterback who could realistically be a top backup for a team and will (likely) be this team’s third option? That is a good deal in my book!

Steelers sign Montravius Adams

Grade: D+

This seemed like an unnecessary deal for the team. Montravius Adams never recaptured his early success, and while he is fine depth, he seemed more like a veteran benefit contract type of guy instead of this deal. It isn’t a huge deal, but it seems like a slight overpay for someone with experience.

Steelers sign Dean Lowry

Grade: A-

This has quietly been one of my favorite moves of the offseason. No, Dean Lowry won’t likely be a huge impact player, but he can hold his own as a rotational defender and, hopefully, take some snaps away from Cameron Heyward in order to keep him rested. He is a good veteran to have around for the short term.

Steelers sign Cordarrelle Patterson

Grade: A

On paper, this is my favorite move of the offseason. The NFL revamped its kickoff rules, and Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the best to ever serve as a return man. He is also a more than capable running back, so he can factor into the offense on a small basis and serve as good insurance for either of the starters.

Steelers draft class

Grade: B

You can look here for my individual player grades from the class, but this is a group that I’m not as excited about as I was last year's class. That doesn’t mean it is a bad group though. This seems like a safer draft class with a lower ceiling because of it. That said, the floor is high, and I expect some early and strong results for this group.

Steelers undrafted class

Grade: D

I really wish the Steelers would revamp their ways of signing undrafted rookies. They haven’t had an exciting class in years, and while the occasional player earns a role, more often than not this group is gone by the end of their first year. Beanie Bishop is the only reason this group didn’t earn a failing grade.

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Overall, I am very satisfied with the offseason as a whole. While I may not be as high on the prospects of this team as some seem to be, talent was added where it was needed, and the draft seems to be another value-focused group. All in all, I am pretty satisfied with what this team accomplished this year.