How to make the Steelers competitive again in 2023
Steelers in-house moves
The Steelers have a slew of pending free agents, and I have the team targeting quite a few to return. I’ve broken down the contract as well as the first-year cap hit to follow. Important to note, any contract that is a veteran minimum deal won’t count against my cap budget as the use of cap space on a deal like that is negligible.
Cameron Sutton: 3 years, 29 million, 9 million signing bonus, 4 million cap hit
While Spotrac has Cameron Suttons' value at a mere 7.6 million, I find that hard to believe. Sutton had his best season as a pro and is capable of playing outside or in the slot. The top slot cornerbacks make closer to 8-9 million a year, and the Steelers offer a fair deal to avoid Sutton testing free agency. He has more than earned this extension.
Damontae Kazee: 2 years, 5 million, 2 million signing bonus, 2 million cap hit
While there is a real chance both return, I have the Steelers opting to keep Damontae Kazee and go without Terrell Edmunds in 2023. Kazee more than proved himself as a versatile weapon for this defense. He can go into the season as a starter or become the third safety depending on what I do during free agency and the draft.
Zach Gentry: 3 years, 9 million, 2.4 million signing bonus, 1.9 million cap hit
Outside of Sutton, I think Zach Gentry is the most important player that the Steelers should resign. He gives this offense a lot of versatility. He has developed into a solid blocker and a safe receiving valve when need be. He gets a healthy deal to stick around for this developing offense.
James Pierre: RFA tender, 2.6 million cap hit
James Pierre is a valuable member of this defense, and he proved it last year. From continuing to serve in his special teams' role to stepping in on defense, Pierre has been a huge success story. The restricted free agent contract is a little high, but it is worth it for the value he provides on this team.
Veteran minimum contracts: Karl Joseph, Trenton Scott, Miles Boykin, Steven Sims, J.C. Hassenauer, and Benny Snell
Finally, I would extend a veteran minimum contract to all of these players. None of them are core players, but each serves important roles, and if they are willing to come back on the cheap, it would be worth it.
This leaves the Steelers with 19.5 million dollars to spend as they enter free agency.