The Pittsburgh Steelers season was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the quarterback position was unclear, injuries riddled the defense, and the team went 2-6. In the second half, the team rallied behind rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, returned key starters to their defense and the team recorded a 7-2 record in their last nine games. Despite barely missing the playoffs, the Steelers have some pretty serious team needs in order to return to the postseason. Free agency will be tricky, with the team already pushing the cap limit. Luckily, the Steelers possess two top 32 picks and four in the top 100. With that in mind, these are the top five Pittsburgh Steelers team needs that can push them over the edge in 2023.
Top Five Pittsburgh Steelers Team Needs in 2023 Off-Season
Interior Offensive Lineman
In the pre-draft process, most analysts do not distinguish between center and guard. The Steelers currently have Band-Aid solutions at both positions and could use a real grinder in the center of the line. Mason Cole performed admirably but is an average performer at best. Hopefully, an improvement on the interior will spell larger holes for Najee Harris, more time for Kenny Pickett, and an offense that will be difficult to contend with. At worst, another body in the room will provide depth to the position that is sorely lacking at the moment.
As the Steelers roll out their 3-4 defensive front seven, the front three have to be true forces of nature. Regularly tasked with soaking up double teams, it is a thankless position albeit an important one. A quick scan at the front three’s ages, they are long in the tooth at an average age of 30 going into next season. As a result, the Steelers should set their sights on a run-stuffing defensive lineman to learn from Cameron Heyward. Daron Payne in free agency might be a pipe dream, but Omar Khan should start calling once the league allows it.
When was the last time the Steelers had a true shutdown corner? Ike Taylor in 2005? Despite not having an elite cover corner, the Steelers led the league in interceptions in 2022. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith certainly had something to do with that. Pairing a cover corner with an elite pass-rushing duo will continue the interceptions for years to come. Not to mention Cameron Sutton is an unrestricted free agent this year. Luckily, the 2023 draft is loaded at cornerback and the Steelers could find themselves with a top option at either 17 or 32 overall. The Joey Porter Jr. hype will build between now and April.
Speaking of pass rushing, Highsmith is set to be a free agent after next season and Watt just missed most of the season due to injury. Malik Reed performed fine as a depth piece but is not the long-term solution at the position. Free agency will prove to be too expensive for the Steelers and the top guys are not worth paying up for this year anyway. Comparatively, the draft may be a solid option. While the Steelers will be well out of range of the Will Andersons and Tyree Wilsons of the world, a third or fourth-round pick to secure the position might make sense.
What to do with Devin Bush and Myles Jack? Jack led the Steelers in tackles with 104 total in 2022. Even so, if the Steelers cut Jack in the off-season they save eight million dollars. Bush is already primed to be a free agent unless something changes between now and the new league year. Tremaine Edmunds will be linked to the Steelers all off-season due to family ties. Another position with lots of options in the draft, free agency will show the NFL what the GM’s plan is for the position. This may be the most pressing of the Steelers team needs in 2023.
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