Steelers mock offseason: Building Pittsburgh's roster from the ground up in 2024

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
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Steelers free agency moves

Ryan Tannehill is my first target (to the disgruntlement of Steelers nation). I like what he did in Arthur Smith’s offense and think he is a fine veteran to push Pickett this season. He is offered a two-year deal worth 4 million a season.

Next, I head for my whale of a signing and call up Christian Wilkins. I want to have him come in and provide an instant impact player for this defensive line. He won’t be cheap, but I try and get him on a fair deal. I offer him four years at 17.5 million a season.

I stay on defense for the next pick and look to bolster the safety room with Jordan Whitehead. He is offered a three-year deal for 6 million a season. The secondary help doesn’t stop there, as I offer cornerback/slot defender Sean Bunting a two-year deal worth 5 million a season. I also move quickly to offer Tommy Townsend a three-year, 3 million-a-season deal.

This ends my first day of targets, and when I moved the sim forward, no one agreed to their deals. Lovely. On the plus side, no one agreed to any other deals except Tannehill, who will be getting paid nearly 33 million by the Commanders next season. Ew.

I up Wilkins's offer to 20 million a season, Bunting to 6.5 a year, Whitehead to 7 per season, and Townsend to 3.5 million a season. We also extend an offer center Matt Hennessy to the tune of two years at 2 million dollars a season.

I move the sim forward and we land Townsend and Cushinberry! Two starting positions are taken care of for this team, although my hope is that Hennessy plays more of a reserve role this year.

My new quarterback target is Sam Darnold, and he gets the standard 4 million a year deal. Whitehead gets my max offer, 8 million over three seasons. Wilkins gets my best offer as well, 21 million a season for four years.

I want to find a capable slot cornerback in free agency, and I notice Myles Bryant is available. He has become a strong defender in the slot as a run defender and holds his own in coverage. I offer him a three-year deal for 6.5 million a season. He accepts, but everyone else remains unmoved.

We bump Darnold to 6.5 million a season. I set my sights on Darnell Savage as my new safety target. He is offered a two-year contract worth 5 million a season. I go after Bilal Nichols as well, two years worth 6 million a year. Nichols and Darnold accept their offer, so I guess Pickett will be fighting it out with Darnold next year.

We really need a safety, so we up Savage to 8 million a season for two years. I also go about offering minimum contracts to running back Joshua Kelley, receiver Van Jefferson, tight end Drew Sample, edge rusher Clelin Ferrell, linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, and safety Ashtyn Davis. All will be cheap (if they sign) and help fill out the depth chart before the draft.

Not a single soul accepts. I moved my safety offer to Xavier McKinney, as he is still really young and can play either spot. He isn’t the box safety you want, but I can live with that if he provides some stability to the strong safety role. The aforementioned veteran minimum deals all get bumped to 1.5 million a year deals (minus Ferrell, who signed with the Vikings).

McKinney accepts, but the remainder of the depth players decline. In one last attempt to land them, I change the contracts to two-year deals worth 2 million a season. This will make them easy cuts if they don’t perform but gives them a little more money in their pockets. This lands us Sample and Davis-Gaither.

I make my final offers, the same two-year deals from before but now offer running back Nyheim Hines, receiver Parris Campbell, and safety Adrian Amos. The only player that accepts is Hines, and I wrap up free agency with a solid haul of veterans.