The Steelers must make this big change to their approach in free agency

The Steelers have never been big spenders in free agency, and while they've spent more since Omar Khan took over, they rarely go after the big fish.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known as a franchise that prefers to build through the NFL Draft. They rarely make big trades or big signings, and instead usually use those avenues as ways to find complimentary pieces to fill out their roster.

The big-name free agents usually sign elsewhere, as the Steelers either view them as riskier assets or view that they can get more value out of diversifying their funds to several different positions. While these two views have their merits, there are also reasons to believe that the Steelers must make a change and begin to at least dip their toes into discussing some bigger-name free agents.

Recent failures prove short-term deals are no sure thing

In recent offseasons, the Steelers have been much more active than in the past. Some of the players they have gone out to sign include Mitch Trubisky, Cole Holcomb, Kwon Alexander, Mason Cole, Patrick Peterson, and Levi Wallace.

These signings are often meant to complement the building block pieces on the roster that the team has attained through the draft. However, as has proven the case with some of these players, spreading the money out to numerous players is not always a perfect solution either.

Trubisky was not what the team hoped he would be and was released this offseason, Wallace and Peterson have both proven that they are not the players they once were and have struggled to keep up with opposing wide receivers, and while Cole looked good in his first season, he regressed this season. Holcomb and Alexander on the other hand were valuable pieces to Pittsburgh's defense but both suffered season-ending injuries.

Instead of throwing a bunch of darts at players, the Steelers could invest in one or two higher-priced free agents that could become integral pieces of their core. While it makes sense to address as many needs as possible, when they do it their way, likely, a few of the low-priced free agents won't work out.

The Steelers should be in on big Free Agents this Offseason

It's no secret that the Steelers have many needs that need to be addressed this offseason and should do so in both the Draft and Free Agency. The best way to do this for the Steelers would be to identify where the strengths are in the draft and free agency and plan accordingly.

Given that this draft is much deeper at cornerback and offensive line than it is at defensive line, it might make the most sense for the Steelers to target one of the bigger-name defensive linemen to add to their roster. Justin Madubuike and Christian Wilkins present two really strong options for the Steelers who are young enough to be pieces of the Steelers' defense for the next few years and are talented enough to be pieces that are worth paying up for.

However, they may get outbid for these players, or view the draft class differently than many others do. In either case, with needs on the offensive line, and cornerback, the team could go out and spend big at one of these positions instead, before attacking other needs in the draft. Jaylon Johnson, L'Jarius Sneed, Connor Williams, and others present interesting options for Pittsburgh in free agency as well.

And to address the need everyone is most interested in, quarterback features both Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins as the headline free agents that the Steelers could target if they so choose. However, I don't believe they will be in the market for anything more than a backup quarterback in free agency.

Clearly, the team has options this offseason. If they want to stick to their philosophy of filling in the gaps with veterans they could continue to do that. However, given bad contracts to players signed in free agency or via extension such as Chukwuma Okorafor, I believe the Steelers would be smart to sign fewer free agents, and instead go after higher-quality players so that they have a much more reliable investment.

If the team does this, it will strengthen the roster, and combined with how well they draft, could make the team much stronger next season and in the future.

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