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Steelers release Joe Schobert, clearing valuable salary cap space

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 10:51am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers released ILB Joe Schobert, as expected.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the most active teams in the NFL to date in this 2022 free agency period. Having roughly $29 million dollars to begin the new league year, the Steelers continue to make moves. As they continue to add players to their roster, the need to create more cap space remains constant.

Wednesday the Steelers released offensive tackle Zach Banner, creating roughly $5 million dollars in cap space, and on Thursday the team announced the official release of inside linebacker Joe Schobert.

We have terminated LB Joe Schobert’s contract. @BordasLaw https://t.co/Xn6yKmFopl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 17, 2022

When the Steelers added linebacker Myles Jack via free agency Wednesday afternoon, the writing was on the wall for Schobert’s exit from Pittsburgh. The move will create roughly $7.834 million in cap space, and even after displacement will still be a savings of more than $7 million dollars.

Schobert’s time in Pittsburgh was brief after being signed in the 2021 preseason. After Vince Williams’ abrupt retirement before training camp the team was forced to inject Robert Spillane into the starting lineup. It didn’t take long for the team to see this wasn’t a long term solution.

Brining in Schobert via trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars seemed good in theory, but on the field resulted in questionable results. Schobert, alongside Devin Bush, was never kept clean enough from the poor play by the defensive line, and often got taken out of plays. The result was the league’s worst run defense. On top of that, Schobert never seemed comfortable in the Steelers’ scheme. This, combined with his huge salary cap hit in 2022, were reasons why this move was expected for weeks. After Jack was signed, it became obvious it was only a matter of time.

Freeing up nearly $12 million dollars in salary cap space should equate to the Steelers remaining active in free agency. Positions of need include: wide receiver, cornerback and strong safety. The Steelers have yet to have one of their own free agents sign elsewhere, so the return of players like Ahkello Witherspoon, Joe Haden, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Terrell Edmunds remain viable options.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency, as well as the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Steelers are determined to give Matt Canada’s offense a real shot

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

From coaching hires to free agent signings, the focus on offense is clear.

Matt Canada joined the Steelers coaching staff in 2020, and he had input into a run game that had James Conner and Benny Snell Jr. at running back, an aging and pass-blocking focused offensive line, Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald at tight end, a 38-year old pocket passer with Hall of Fame credentials and a decent group of receivers.

Matt Canada’s offense is largely a run-first offense using a lot of inside and outside zone concepts, an offense that relies on versatile tight ends, a smart running back with good vision, mobile and strong run blocking linemen and a quarterback who can run a lot of run pass option (RPO) plays and execute play-action well.

Not hard to see how poorly those two paragraphs line up in terms of talent needed and the talent the Steelers had in 2020. In 2021 the Steelers added a fantastic running back with great vision who runs smart and decisively in Najee Harris, a great blocking and receiving tight end in Pat Freiermuth, a big powerful run blocking tackle in Dan Moore Jr. and an athletic center from a zone-heavy system in Kendrick Green.

Green’s struggles, the loss of Kevin Dotson and the regression of Ben Roethlisberger hurt the offense, but we saw more of Matt Canada’s offense, in the run and the passing game. It didn’t work the best, but it also didn’t fit the quarterback, and the offensive line was in shambles for much of the season.

The design was there, even if a reduced COVID salary cap did make it more of a pipe dream than a realistic strategy. If Green had been NFL ready in Year 1, and the rest of the line stayed healthy, the run game could have taken the pressure off of Roethlisberger to be the offense. Roethlisberger, for his part, did a fantastic job learning to run play action and RPO’s at the age of 39. It wasn’t great, but he was an old dog learning new tricks and he pulled it off much better than I would have thought possible.

This offseason the Steelers are doubling down on giving Matt Canada the pieces to fully implement his offense. This commitment began well before free agency, as it tipped off with the hiring of Pat Meyer to be the Steelers offensive line coach. Pat Meyer wasn’t the coach Steeler fans wanted, especially with Mike Munchak on the market, but while Munchak has a more prestigious career and a history of incredible success with the Steelers organization, his team’s run games haven’t been what the Steelers want to run in Canada’s offense.

So, instead of just signing the coach with the better record of success and the prestigious name, the Steelers chose scheme fit.

Similarly many Steelers fans and “insiders” had the Steelers linked to pursuing Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen. Jensen and the Buccaneers run outside zone concepts that Matt Canada uses, they don’t use them as much and that isn’t Jensen’s strength. Instead, the Steelers big signing on the offensive line was James Daniels, whose Chicago Bears ran outside zone roughly twice as often as the Buccaneers did, and Daniels was one of the best, if not the best, outside zone blocking guards available in free agency.

The same can be said of Mason Cole, who has played both center and guard, and who played for Minnesota last season, one of the top outside zone run teams in the NFL. Before going to Minnesota, Cole was the starting center for the Arizona Cardinals who ran a heavy outside zone offense, using a mobile quarterback and lateral movement in the run game to set up their downfield passing attack.

And that brings us to the quarterback position. Mitchell Trubisky is a mobile quarterback, but not a true running quarterback, as he looks to scramble and throw downfield rather than just take off most of the time. That will make him a good fit in Matt Canada’s offense, that doesn’t use the quarterback as a main runner, but does rely on the quarterback to be mobile and be able to run when called for.

Mitchell Trubisky isn’t the best quarterback available, he has some real flaws he hasn’t been able to sort out so far in his career, but he fits the scheme better than other more polished quarterbacks.

I think it is clear the Steelers came into this offseason with a focus on finding players who fit what Matt Canada wants to do on offense and the resources to make it happen. Only a few days into the extended free agency period and they have taken serious steps to make that focus a reality.

Now all that is left is for Matt Canada to get his offensive players on the same page and ready to show the best version of his offense they can. Because if the offense isn’t any better in 2022 than it was in 2020 and 2021, there won’t be excuses this year.

A deep dive of what went right, and wrong, with Mitch Trubisky in Chicago

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 9:30am
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers now have Mitch Trubisky, but it is worth looking back at what went right, and wrong, when he was the starter of the Bears.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been aggressive in free agency to date, and the one area they were most aggressive was finding a quarterback. Within hours of the start of the legal tampering period the Steelers came to terms with free agent Mitchell Trubisky on a two-year contract.

The Steelers fan base was both excited and unsure of what they now had with Trubisky in the mix at the most important position in all of sport. Would he be a starter? Or will he just be competing with Mason Rudolph for the right to be “the guy” for the Steelers when fall rolls around?

One thing is certain, Trubisky’s pedigree of being a No. 2 overall draft pick has always been in question. When the Chicago Bears drafted Trubisky out of North Carolina, bypassing the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, lofty expectations fell on Trubisky’s shoulders. Things went south for the young quarterback in the windy city, but it makes you wonder if the issues were all him, or the team who drafted him?

I reached out to Josh Sunderbruch of Windy City Gridiron, the SB Nation Bears website, and asked him a series of questions regarding Trubisky. After all, those who covered him during his first four years would know him best.

Take a look at the answers below:

How much of Trubisky’s failures in Chicago do you place on the organization? Meaning, the coaching/team around him.

More than half of his struggles were due to forces outside of his control. He was given one of the worst receiver corps in the league in 2017, and he never really had a chance to settle into a consistent offense after that time. [Matt] Nagy’s inability to adapt scheme to quarterback is consistent—I mean, at some point if the system fails with multiple starting quarterbacks, it’s not the player, it’s the coach.

Additionally, he was always going to be a work in progress, and the [Mike] Glennon experiment meant he got thrown in with less than a year to prepare after only starting for a year in North Carolina. So, he was raw, surrounded by a weak offense, and put in a struggling and overly sophisticated system.

That’s not on him.

This is an aspect of the Trubisky story which doesn’t get talked about as much as most would have thought. Trubisky was thrown into the fire, with a system and team which wasn’t truly built for success. What happened was what the NFL world saw...a quarterback who at times looked in over his head.

Likewise, how much of Trubisky’s failures fall on his shoulders as a quarterback?

Honestly? Probably just under half. He was not a finished product when he came to Chicago, and he never showed a grasp for nuanced football. He didn’t have the ability to make reads, and he struggled at times with playing hero ball.

He does not have “elite QB” talent. He has “good QB talent” and he tries to play like he’s better than he is.

Of course, not all of the blame for Trubisky’s failures in Chicago fall on the organization and coaching staff, but for those who don’t follow the NFC, or NFC North specifically, I wanted to know exactly what Trubisky’s strengths, and weaknesses were:

What would you say Trubisky’s strengths are, and what kind of offense he can thrive in?

Give Trubisky the chance to move and just enough time to complete intermediate passes and he can deliver. He can hit guys who are open and put them in the position to make plays. More than that, this kid can scramble and the stats back up how he is more than okay under pressure.

Scripted plays and simplified reads are his friends.

His intangibles are also strong. His teammates loved him, and he did everything the organization asked him to do and seldom complained. Absolute team player. He does not quit, and he’ll take a hit and get back up as if nothing happened.

What would be the weaknesses in his game?

He cannot read a defense. Just...can’t. There’s a myth he can’t complete the deep ball, but he can if, big if, he knows where to go with it. He’s also better under pressure than a lot of quarterbacks. However, he needs to learn how to read defenses better, and at this point I wonder if it’s ever going to click for him. As I mentioned, he plays hero ball a lot, and he’ll take sacks he should avoid—especially short sacks where he should just throw it away.

After a year with the Buffalo Bills, one where his hype only grew, the question I had for someone who covered him for four seasons was if he believed it would even matter? Could he actually get better without playing?

Do you think one year away, as a backup, can truly change a quarterback?

I want to say yes. I will say this—if he is given the chance, Trubisky will do everything in his power to improve. He probably tried as hard as he could to learn during that year in Buffalo, because this guy has a great attitude. I am afraid, though, he just doesn’t have the extra mental gear he needs to really ever be more than slightly above average.

It’s going to come down to whether or not an offense can be scripted for him that lets him play within himself. He’s probably a Top 40, not Top 20 quarterback at the moment. Taking that next step is going to take someone working with a kid who has physical gifts and a great work ethic, but whose sense of the game is consistently less than 3-dimensional. I’m pulling for him, though.

When it comes to Trubisky, there is a lot to like, and a lot which is up in the air. Nonetheless, the Steelers, and more importantly Matt Canada, are hoping to make something out of Trubisky. Is he the next heir apparent to the Steelers’ quarterback throne? That has yet to be determined, but he is certainly getting another shot, and that is something many quarterback can’t say they ever received.

A big shout out to Josh for answering my questions, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

Have the Steelers done enough in adding to the offensive line?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Does more still need to be done to fix the Steelers offensive line?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have entered the legal tampering window already having made a number of moves. Three of those moves currently include that of signing former Minnesota Vikings center/guard Mason Cole to three-year deal, adding Chicago Bears guard/center James Daniels and re-signing Chukwuma Okorafor for three years as well. All players are only on the books for under a $5 million cap hit in the first year of these deals, which is nice, and demonstrates an improvement in the Steelers offensive line. It’s been one of the storylines which has run all year long, but do the Steelers still need to improve what was one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines in the game?

With the amount of tackles already under contract, it is hard to imagine the organization adds anyone else at the position. Sure, releasing Zach Banner frees up a back up spot, but I really don’t see the Steelers adding another veteran in a reserve role. The interior of the offensive line is also starting to fill out with the two new faces. But with a release I think it is still possible to see another player added to the fold, and I do expect the Steelers to take another offensive lineman somewhere in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The one thing the Steelers cannot afford to do this offseason is enter the 2022 campaign with 4/5 of the offensive line remaining the same from last season. That being said, I still expect either Cole or Daniels to start at center and send Kendrick Green to the bench. The unit was terrible a season ago and thinking you’re going to get much better from the same players a year later is the definition of insanity.

On paper, the current unit is better. Daniels and Cole strengthen this team, especially the rushing attack, but I still have some concern at tackle. If Dan Moore Jr. doesn’t improve and/or Chuks Okorafor stays the same, then nothing will be that different. I am hopeful these players improve and enter the 2022 season with some more depth behind the starters.

But what do you think? Are the Steelers failing their team by not being more aggressive to fix this group, or have they done enough to improve the unit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Steelers brass in attendance at the University of Georgia Pro Day

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 7:15am
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers brought out the big guns for the Georgia Pro Day Wednesday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with all 32 NFL organizations, have been on the recruiting trail the past few weeks since the NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up. The individual pro day schedule has been relatively calm, with only smaller schools hosting their pro days, but on Wednesday one of the biggest pro days occurred in Athens, Georgia.

That’s right, the 2021 National Champion Georgia Bulldogs hosted their pro day, and all hands were on deck for the black and gold. It was reported both Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, along with Brian Flores, were in attendance.

UGA Pro Day attendees: #Steelers HC Mike Tomlin & GM Kevin Colbert are #Texans HC Lovie Smith #Bucs DC Todd Bowles

— Taylor Bisciotti (@TaylorBisciotti) March 16, 2022

This news should come as a shock to absolutely no one when it comes to the college football scene. The Bulldogs could have over 20 players selected in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, so much so it might be easier to list players who won’t be selected on Days 1 and 2, rather than those would could.

There is one player who get a lot of attention, and rightfully so, and that is defensive lineman Jordan Davis. Davis moves well for a human being as large as he is, and Marcus Mosher shared a quote from Tomlin regarding if he believes Davis will be a member of the Steelers come May.

Mike Tomlin if Jordan Davis will be a #Steeler: "I doubt it. I think he'll be hugging Roger Goodell before then."

— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) March 16, 2022

As great as it would be to see Davis in the black and gold, Tomlin is right. The odds of Davis getting to pick No. 20, especially after his performance at the combine, makes it highly unlikely.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t players to keep an eye on who could be on the Steelers’ radar with their top pick or two, in the selection process. Just to name a few:

LB Nakobe Dean
EDGE Travon Walker
DL Jordan Davis
DL Devonte Wyatt
CB Derion Kendrick
S Lewis Cine
WR Kenny Pickens
OL Jamaree Salyer
OL Justin Shaffer

With all that said, put an asterisk next to the Georgia pro day with Colbert and Tomlin in attendance. This information matters, and we can start connecting the dots if/when the team hosts prospects for pre-draft visits.

Be sure to stay up to date with all the Steelers pre-draft visits in our pre-draft tracker below:

Otherwise, don’t forget to make BTSC your one-stop-shop for all things Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.

I never thought I’d be rooting for Mitch Trubisky as a Steelers QB, but here we are

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 6:00am
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

All these years, I wondered who the immediate successor to Ben Roethlisberger would be. Here we are in March of 2022, and it looks like Mitch Trubisky will be that guy. I’m here for it, and I’m rooting for him to be more than just a footnote in Steelers history.

I was actually writing a BTSC article about the unretiring of quarterback Tom Brady on Monday afternoon when I got a call from my brother.

My brother was calling to tell me that the Steelers had agreed to terms on a two-year deal with quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

My first reaction was “wow.” My second thought was how fast this all went down. After talking to my brother about the transaction for a few minutes, I uttered the statement that would become the title for this article: “I never thought I’d be rooting for Mitch Trubisky as the Steelers' next starting quarterback, but here we are.”

Think about all of those years when fans like me wondered when the Steelers would find the successor to Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and who it would be. Sure, there were internal possibilities over the last decade of Roethlisberger’s career—including Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph—as well as external desires—including Patrick Mahomes and Sam Darnold (pre-draft and post-bust).

Fact is, it’s still not set in stone as to who the Steelers' very next starting quarterback will be, considering the draft is about six weeks away and Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett will have to be selected by someone—perhaps by a team with a bridge quarterback.

Also, Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins theoretically still have a shot.

But while it’s not set in stone, it sure looks like Trubisky is going to get the first crack at replacing Roethlisberger at quarterback. When it comes to that, I immediately remember where I was in February of 1984 when it was announced on the news that Pittsburgh had acquired quarterback David Woodley from the Miami Dolphins in a trade. Terry Bradshaw, who missed all but one half of the 1983 campaign, had yet to announce his official retirement, but it seemed like he was leaning in that direction.

Cliff Stoudt, who had just inked a deal to play in the USFL, was essentially the first quarterback to try to fill Bradshaw’s shoes when he stepped in for the Blond Bomber as the full-time starter in ‘83, but nobody knew Bradshaw’s career was essentially over during that time.

Everyone knew Bradshaw was done by the time Woodley opened the 1984 season as the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As they say, the rest is history. And when I say that, I’m not talking about the historical numbers that Woodley would go on to put up. He didn’t, of course. Instead of that, Woodley, who had just started in the Super Bowl for the Dolphins two years earlier (and was the youngest quarterback to ever do so at the time), would become just a footnote in Steelers history, a guy who would go on to appear in 16 games over two seasons before his career in Pittsburgh came to an abrupt and unceremonious end.

But I remember being pretty pumped up about Woodley when the Steelers traded for him. I knew this guy! I watched him play in the Super Bowl. I bought in right away.

Here we are, 38 years later, and I’m willing to do that again with Trubisky as the Steelers next starting quarterback. I’d like to see him succeed and be more than just the bridge to the next franchise guy like many are predicting. At 27, Trubisky is young enough, that’s for sure. Heck, Woodley was just 25 years old when he arrived in Pittsburgh in 1984; I obviously can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing that Woodley could have been the Steelers' next franchise quarterback had things worked out for him. Those guys aren’t easy to find, and I’m assuming Chuck Noll and Co. wouldn’t have looked a gift horse in the mouth had the next franchise QB presented himself so quickly as a 25-year old acquired in a trade from another team.

We’ll spend the next several weeks or so learning all that we can about Trubisky, but we’ll know a ton more about him once he straps on his helmet and starts to throw a football as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The second Trubisky does, he’ll begin a journey that may quickly end with him being just a footnote in franchise history—“I can’t believe the Steelers tried to replace Ben Roethlisberger with some guy named Trubisky”—or he’ll make history as the Steelers' next long-term starting quarterback.

I’m going to be rooting hard for Mitch Trubisky to pull off the latter.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 03/17/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

The War Room: The Steelers free agent signings so far have sugar, spice and maybe not nice

The Steelers have made quite a splash in free agency, but will these particular players make the waves that the Men of Steel need? Check out the BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matt Peverell in The Steelers War Room. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he looks at possible future Steelers and examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

Rundown of the show:

  • The Steelers free agency activity so far and bucketed things into ‘spice’ (the good stuff), ‘nice’ (solid moves), and not so nice
  • Much More

Check out the BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matty in The Steelers War Room.

Breaking News: Steelers sign LB Myles Jack, release Zach Banner

The NFL Tampering Period is now under way as free agents around the league are free to move around the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to make moves in free agency, and they did so by signing former Jacksonville Jaguars LB Myles Jack. BTSC editors Jeff Hartman and Dave Schofield break down this addition, as well as Zach Banner’s release, on the latest Breaking News podcast.

The Steelers Curtain Call: A Windy City view of new Steelers

It’s the show where Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict break down a black and gold off-season full of change in the manner in which they examine the enemy. Scenarios, questions and more will be pondered on the latest episode of the BTSC family of podcasts. This time around, Mike and Geoff welcome Joey Christopoulos, the host of Bleav in Bears to talk about the careers of Mitch Trubisky and James Daniels with the Bears and how it will translate to the Men of Steel.

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers moves so far leading up to the start of the New League Year
  • Special Guest: Joey Christopoulos, the host of Bleav in Bears

Michael and Geoffrey walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

The Steelers Stat Geek: How much do we actually know about the Pittsburgh Steelers?

As much as we, the fans, bleed black and gold, how much do we actually know about the Pittsburgh Steelers? The media has sources, but they don’t always pan out. What percentage of what goes on with the Men of Steel that fans actually see? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The more that we don’t know
  • and more geeky numbers!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Steelers sign LB Myles Jack to a 2-year contract worth $16 million

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 5:24pm
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed help at inside linebacker, and they got it by signing Myles Jack to a two-year deal.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been players in the early stages of the NFL free agency period, and they continue to make moves in preparation for the 2022 regular season. After spending the early portions of the week addressing the offensive line, the Steelers have now turned their attention to the defensive side of the football.

After signing former Buffalo Bills cornerback Levi Wallace Tuesday, the team has added a linebacker by way of former Jacksonville Jaguars standout Myles Jack.

This per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

Former Jaguars’ LB Myles Jack is expected to sign a two-year, $16 million deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2022

Jack was a second round pick of the Jaguars in 2016 out of UCLA. Jack has spent his entire career in Jacksonville, but was recently released for salary cap purposes. Throughout his time in Jacksonville Jack has 82 starts to his name, 6.5 career sacks and 513 combined tackles.

The former Jacksonville stand out is known for his athleticism, and it will be extremely interesting to see how he will fit in the Steelers’ defense alongside Devin Bush, as well as under the tutelage of newly hired defensive assistant Brian Flores.

The signing could likely mean the end of Joe Schobert’s time in Pittsburgh, especially with his inflated contract coming due this season. If Schobert is released, or re-negotiates his contract, it would give the Steelers even more salary cap flexibility. This the day after offensive tackle Zach Banner was released to create $5 million more in cap sapce.

The Steelers aren’t done in free agency, they still have to address their secondary in some way outside of the Wallace signing. So be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for more on the black and gold as they press on through free agency and get ready for the 2022 NFL Draft on the horizon.

Steelers release offensive tackle Zach Banner

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 3:21pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Banner’s salary cap hit for 2022 was the highest of any offensive player on the Steelers

In a season where the Pittsburgh Steelers saw more salary cap space than they have in years, one Item of business which was missing from their offseason moves was releasing players to save against the salary cap. As the 2020 NFL league year kicks off at 4 PM, the Steelers have made the first salary cap cut in releasing offensive tackle Zach Banner.

We have terminated the contract of OT Zach Banner. @BordasLaw https://t.co/KHqH0BYWiV

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 16, 2022

Banner signed a two-year deal with the Steelers last offseason worth $9.5 million. With a $1.25 million base salary in 2021 and a $3.25 million signing bonus, Banner will carry a dead money hit of $1.625 million for 2022. While that is the negative part of Banner’s release, the positive financial return is an additional $5 million saved against the salary cap.

Based on the structure of his salary, Zach Banner, the highest cap hit for the Steelers offense, had the second-highest salary cap savings of any player on the Steelers roster if he were to be released. The only player who can save the Steelers even more for 2022 is Joe Schobert, who would carry a $7.834 million cap savings. At this time, the Steelers continue to keep Schobert under contract.

Zach Banner came to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018 but never saw the field and was inactive for almost every game. Banner started one game as a jumbo tight end in 2019 while he appeared in 14 games playing 216 snaps on offense. In 2020, Banner got his only start at tackle in his career in Week 1 against the Giants only to suffer a season-ending ACL injury. In 2021, Banner could not find his way back onto the field and only appeared in seven games for the Steelers, mainly on special teams, as he only played five offensive snaps.

Just as other salary cap moves the Steelers have made in previous years, it is not out of the question for the Steelers to re-sign Banner at a much lower rate at a later time. Whether both parties would be interested in a reunion is not known.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Steelers continue through the 2022 free agency period.

What happened to the Steelers’ 2008 draft class?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 1:00pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Leading up to the 2022 NFL draft in April, let’s look at how some of the Steelers’ drafts played out.

The 2022 NFL Draft is just a couple months away. Last offseason, we dove into a Steelers NFL draft class starting with the 2004 NFL Draft and outlined a successive draft each week. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers was highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. Each year was outlined with the last three draft classes all combined into one since a large number of the players were still with the team.

Since it worked last season, and since a lot of the research has already been done, let’s look back at they players from these drafts yet again, this time looking at two different years, on separate days, each week leading up to the last week of April. For players no longer in the league, a lot of the information will be the same while others will be updated where needed.

Part 5 of 16 will highlight the Steelers 2008 NFL draft where no players remained with the Steelers past their rookie contract.

So let’s take a look at the seven players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2008 NFL draft:

Rashard Mendenhall Running Back, Illinois

Round 1
Pick 23

The last running back drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rashard Mendenhall only appeared in four games as a rookie before being lost for the season in his first start with a fractured shoulder from a hot delivered by Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis. Rushing for more than 1,000 yards each of the next two seasons, Mendenhall was more known for his fumble in Super Bowl XLV. The following year Mendenhall tore his ACL in the final game of the season and did not appear in a game in 2012 until Week 5. Eventually benched due to ineffectiveness, Mendenhall was suspended for the Steelers’ Week 15 game against the Dallas Cowboys when he did not show up in Week 14 when he was inactive against the San Diego Chargers. Mendenhall only rushed for 182 yards on 51 attempts his final season in Pittsburgh before spending one year in Arizona. After rushing for 687 yards on 217 carries for the Cardinals, Mendenhall retired during the 2014 offseason. Mendenhall worked as a writer for the HBO series Ballers.

Limas Sweed Wide Receiver, Texas

Round 2
Pick 53

Drafted to be the big target at wide receiver the Steelers were looking for, Limas Sweed was a tremendous disappointment as he only appeared in 20 regualr-season games in two seasons for the Steelers. Sweed’s entire NFL career consisted of seven receptions for 69 yards and no touchdowns in the regular season and two receptions for 20 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC Championship Game. Going into the 2010 season, Sweed suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in minicamp. The following season, the Steelers placed Sweed on the Waved/Injured List during training camp and released him later in the year. Trying to catch on with a couple CFL teams, Sweed never played in the NFL again.

Bruce Davis Linebacker, UCLA

Round 3
Pick 88

After playing defensive end in college at UCLA, Bruce Davis struggled to adjust to outside linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Inactive for all but five games his rookie season, Davis never recorded any stats for the Steelers and was waived following training camp in 2009. Davis bounced around from various practice squads over the next two seasons as he spent time with the Patriots, Broncos, and 49ers. Signed to the active roster of the Oakland Raiders during the 2010 season, Davis only lasted 10 games between 2010 and 2011 where he totaled six tackles. After stints on the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals and back to the San Francisco 49ers, Davis played a season in the CFL.

Tony Hills Tackle, Texas

Round 4
Pick 130

The Pittsburgh Steelers traded back seven spots of the fourth round in order to pick up an additional sixth round pick as they were already down there 2008 7th round draft pick which was used to acquire Allen Rossum the previous season. The Steelers selected tackle Tony Hills who spent three seasons in Pittsburgh but only appeared in four games in 2010. After not making the team in 2011, Hill signed with the Denver Broncos for one season where he only appeared in one game. In all, Hills played for 11 different NFL franchises between practice squads and active rosters through 2016. Hills saw the most playing time with the New Orleans Saints in 2015 and 2016 where he appeared a total of 19 games. After signing with his 11th team in the Detroit Lions during the offseason of 2017, Hills announced his retirement from the NFL at the start of training camp.

Dennis Dixon Quarterback, Oregon

Round 5
Pick 156

The first quarterback drafted by a head coach Mike Tomlin, Dennis Dixon appeared in four games with the Steelers from 2008 to 2010. Starting his first game in 2009, Dixon fell to the Baltimore Ravens in overtime in Week 12. In 2010, Dixon started the first two games of the season for the Steelers while Ben Roethlisberger was serving a four-game suspension and Byron Leftwich missed time due to injury. In Dixon’s and second game against the Tennessee Titans, he suffered a torn meniscus at the beginning of the second quarter and ended up on injured reserve. Dixon did not appear a game for the Steelers in 2011 as he was the third quarterback on the roster. Signing with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2012 season, Dixon spent the year on the practice squad. The following season he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles but failed to make the team and landed on the Buffalo Bills practice squad. Dixon’s last stop in the NFL was spending one week on the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals in 2014.

Mike Humpal Linebacker, Iowa

Round 6
Pick 188

Unfortunately for linebacker Mike Humpal, his professional career never really got going as a neck injury caused him to be waived/injured. Upon clearing waivers Humpal returned the Steelers on the Reserve/Injured List for 2008. The Steelers released Humpal in the offseason and he never appeared in the NFL again. Due to his neck injuries, Humpal became inspired to become a chiropractor and has his own practice in Iowa.

Ryan Mundy Defensive back, West Virginia

Round 6
Pick 194

The Steelers final selection of the 2008 NFL draft ended up playing more games in the NFL (96) than any of the others. Ryan Mundy appeared in every game for the Steelers in his four-year career while getting five spots starts due to injuries. Primarily a special-teams player, Mundy went on to play a season with the New York Giants in 2013 and started all 16 games for the Chicago Bears in 2014. After suffering a hip injury in the preseason of 2015, Mundy was placed on injured reserve and never played in the NFL again. While Monday did have one interception with his time with the Steelers, he managed four interceptions with one being returned for a touchdown in his one season in Chicago.

The Steelers need to get Mitch Trubisky more weapons

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers have strengthened the offense in free agency but more should be done.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been on a spending spree on the offensive side of the football. Bringing in offensive lineman James Daniels and Mason Cole, as well as re-signing to Chuks Okorafor, the Steelers have committed to building the offensive line. But the most notable move to date was the one which saw Mitch Trubisky added off of the Buffalo Bills and brought to the Steel City. Anytime you make a significant change at quarterback a lot of people will be talking. While this is the glitzy move which will be spoken of for the next calendar year, at minimum, there are moves the team can make to make Trubisky‘s transition much easier on him.

The Steelers wide receiver room is currently quite bare. With JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud all free agents, the team doesn’t have much remaining. Right now the depth chart features Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Anthony Miller and that’s about it. Simply put, the organization needs to add at least two, and probably three, wide outs to their roster. The Steelers should also not be afraid of signing and drafting players to the receiving position. Ideally, and logically, both of these things will happen. However if the Steelers are unable to sign a talented receiver they may be forced to use one of their first two picks at the spot.

While drafting a receiver high isn’t an issue, the amount of talent in the draft at the Steelers other positions of needs is quite top-heavy. Burning a Day 1 or 2 pick at receiver likely means a Cameron Sutton or Joe Schobert ends up back in a starter’s role in 2022. I think we can all agree that upgrading linebacker and cornerback is more important than rounding out the receiving depth chart.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers really want Trubisky to succeed they will get him another weapon or two and allow this offense to flourish around him. The more playmakers this offense can add would only increase confidence and output from the team’s new quarterback. The Steelers don’t even need to go far to find more receiving talent, as JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s price tag continues to drop by the day. The physical slot receiver is still tailor-made for this offense. As for the draft, North Dakota states’ Christian Watson is the type of physical specimen and athletic freak who could really juice up this offense.

Just based on the fact the Steelers only have two receivers on their roster who have legitimate playing experience in 2021, it seems like a guarantee they will add a new player at the position. I just hope it is someone who can allow Trubisky greater success in his first year in black and gold. The Steelers were given a gift this offseason with a lot of available salary cap space and ability to upgrade many positions on the team. Finding the right receiver helps the Steelers do just that.

But what do you think? How should the Pittsburgh Steelers round out their 2022 receiving depth chart? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Complete list of Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL Draft picks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 10:30am
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the designation of compensatory picks for 2022, the Steelers now know the slot for all seven of their selections.

On Tuesday, the NFL announced the compensatory draft picks for the 2022 NFL draft coming up in April. These picks are based off players gained and lost in free agency during the 2021 offseason.

Now that these picks are known along with the number of selections which will occur in Round 3 through Round 7, all of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL draft picks can be determined.

Where we're picking ⬇️ #SteelersDraft

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 16, 2022

The Steelers draft selections by overall pick and by round are as follows:

Round 1: 20 (1-20)
Round 2: 52 (2-20)
Round 3: 84 (3-20)
Round 4: 138 (4-33; compensatory)
Round 6: 208 (6-29; from Chiefs)
Round 7: 225 (7-4; from Jets)
Round 7: 241 (7-20)

Previously, only the first three rounds were known as the compensatory designation would not affect any of those selections. The Steelers still held all of their first three draft picks for 2022 and knew the selections would be the 20th pick of each round.

When the deadline passed last May for players to count as compensatory free agents (CFAs), it was estimated the Steelers would be receiving two selections with one in the third round and one in the fifth round. After the Steelers traded for cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, it added another CFA to the equation and canceled out the possible fifth-round pick. With Bud Dupree missing part of the 2021 season due to injury, his snap count total dropped low enough to move him out of the third round but be the first compensatory draft pick in Round 4.

The Steelers do not have their own fourth round pick for 2022 because they traded it in the 2021 NFL draft to move into the fifth round to select Isaiahh Loudermilk. The Steelers fifth-round selection was traded to the New York Jets in 2020 in exchange for their seventh-round pick when the Steelers added Avery Williamson before the trade deadline. For this reason, the Steelers are not scheduled to make a selection in the fifth round in 2022.

After trading away their sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Joe Schobert last preseason, the Steelers added a sixth-round selection from the Kansas City Chiefs when they traded Melvin Ingram last season. With the Chiefs having two sixth-round picks at the time, their own and the Baltimore Ravens’ selection, it was considered a conditional draft pick because it was unclear in which slot the Steelers would be. The Chiefs also traded their other Round 6 pick to the Minnesota Vikings last offseason, and in likely had already been negotiated with the Chiefs to be the higher of the two selections based on where each selection fell due to the 2021 season. Therefore, the Steelers ended up with the lower of the two picks that at one time belonged to the Chiefs.

The one round in which the Steelers have two selections is in the final round of the draft. The Steelers hold their own seventh-round selection as well as the previously discussed seventh-round pick of the New York Jets.

When looking at the selections by day, the Steelers will have one pick on Day 1, two picks on Day 2, and four picks on Day 3 on the 2022 draft.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to navigate free agency and prepare for the 2022 NFL draft.

FILM ROOM: Trubisky’s mobility makes him an attractive fit for Canada’s offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 9:15am
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a new quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, and the film shows why they were aggressive in going and getting him.

Free agency opened on Monday at noon, and the Steelers moved quickly to address their need at quarterback by signing Buffalo Bills free agent Mitchell Trubisky.

Trubisky, a former No. 2 overall pick by the Chicago Bears in 2017, has been labeled a bust by some because his production hasn’t matched the lofty expectations of his draft slot. His numbers, however, are better than a “bust” implies. In 50 career starts, Chicago and Buffalo went a combined 29–21 with Trubisky at the helm. His career completion percentage is 64.1 and he has thrown 64 touchdowns against 38 interceptions. Trubisky also has 1,081 yards rushing on 203 attempts with 9 touchdowns.

The last statistic — Trubisky’s career rushing total — makes him attractive as a candidate to run Matt Canada’s offense. The Steelers’ quarterbacks the past few seasons were an aging Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Devlin “Duck” Hodges, Joshua Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins, meaning they were not particularly mobile at the position. Trubisky will not be a runner in the Lamar Jackson mold, but he is an athletic upgrade from any of Pittsburgh’s recent signal callers.

This provides a great opportunity for Canada. It’s no secret he struggled to fit his movement-based passing game to Roethlisberger’s desire to operate from the pocket. Canada’s system prioritizes read-options, sprint-outs and bootlegs. These are particularly important with an offensive line that has been dismal. Moving the pocket so defenses don’t have a stationary target upon which to tee off, like they often did with Roethlisberger, will both protect the quarterback and allow Canada to incorporate longer developing routes. The disappearance of these concepts hamstrung the passing game in recent seasons and reduced it to a dink-and-dunk attack.

Trubisky struggled in Chicago to make full-field reads from the pocket. He is best when he can use his legs to buy space. Canada is most comfortable with a quarterback who can move. On paper, it feels like a proper fit.

For a closer look at how Trubisky’s mobility makes him effective, I pulled film clips from his preseason start last year against his former team in Chicago. Trubisky played the entire first half against the Bears, going 20-28 for 221 yards while leading the Bills to a 34-0 advantage. Granted, it was only preseason, but the contest showcased Trubisky’s strengths, and how he can add complexity to an offense.

Play-Action

In this first clip, we see an immediate contrast between Trubisky’s game and how Pittsburgh operated under Roethlisberger. Trubisky’s athleticism allowed the Bills to use play-action from under center out of a run-heavy 12 personnel set. He was willing to turn his back to the defense in order to sell the run fake, something to which Roethlisberger was never truly committed. Trubisky’s footwork was sound, his fake was convincing, and the linebackers reacted accordingly:

This did not result in a big play, as Trubisky opted to throw the short pivot route to the receiver on his right instead of the deeper “over” route to his left. But it was an efficient drive-starter which gave Buffalo a 2nd and short. More importantly, it planted a seed of doubt in the minds of Chicago’s linebackers as to whether they could trust their eyes. Plays like this slow down a defense, something Pittsburgh did infrequently last season.

Next, Trubisky ran a play-action concept from the shotgun. Play-fakes from the gun are never as good as those from under center since the quarterback faces the defense and cannot hide the football as well. But Trubisky smartly looked left as he made his fake, which drew the alley player to his right up and over. He then looked back that way, paused a beat to let the receiver clear, then threw a nice ball into the window between the alley, corner and safety.

Again, there was nothing spectacular about this play, but Trubisky’s ability to use play-action displaced the defense, which created seams into which he could throw. Those seams were few and far between in Pittsburgh last season, where so often it felt as though defenders were glued to the hips of the receivers and Roethlisberger was constantly throwing into tight coverage.

Per BTSC’s own Geoffrey Benedict, the Bears in 2020, with Trubisky at quarterback, ran the 4th most play-action passes in the league. The Steelers that season ranked 32nd. Surely, Pittsburgh’s play-action frequency will increase if Trubisky becomes the starter.

RPOs

So, too, will their use of RPOs. In that same 2020 season, Chicago ran the 8th most RPOs in the league while the Steelers were 25th. Canada is a proponent of the RPO game, but he was forced to alter their use so Roethlisberger, who was never comfortable with them, could make a pre-snap read rather than having to read the defense as the play unfolded. Essentially, the Steelers packaged an inside run play with an outside vertical route, and Roethlisberger made a pre-snap determination of which he would run. That’s not really an RPO.

Specifically, an RPO, or run-pass option, gives the quarterback the ability to manipulate a play as it unfolds. While certain RPOs do contain pre-snap reads, most also contain a post-snap component. This is what can make them so difficult to defend. If read properly, a quarterback can make a defense wrong no matter how it reacts.

Buffalo ran a couple of these against the Bears. Below, we see a still-frame image of one of them. On this play, the Bills blocked a sweep concept to their left while the slot receiver to Trubisky’s right ran a slant. The back-side linebacker, who is circled in the photo, was left unblocked. This allowed Trubisky to read him. If the backer flowed with the run action, Trubisky would throw the slant. If the backer sat, Trubisky would hand the ball to the back:

As you can see, the backer flowed with the run action, so Trubisky threw behind him for a nice gain:

Later, the Bills ran the same concept, with a similar result. The line blocked sweep, the slot ran a slant and Trubisky read the back-side backer. Again he flowed, and again Trubisky hit the slant in the window:

These concepts feel like play-action passes, but they are not. Play-action constitutes a designed pass, while an RPO could be a pass or a run. RPO runs involve handoffs to backs, not quarterback keepers; so, they are low-risk plays because the quarterback is unlikely to get hit. RPOs provide an added level of complexity to an offense. They should be welcome in Pittsburgh for that reason alone.

Bootlegs

Another area where Trubisky’s mobility is welcome is on bootleg passes. Bootlegs are slower-developing play-action passes where the quarterback fakes a run then escapes the pocket on a designed roll-out. They are great for getting the quarterback away from the pass rush, where he has clearer lines of sight to his receivers. They also allow him to run if the defense falls too far off into coverage.

Against Chicago, the Bills scored on a bootleg pass. They used some Canada-inspired motion to bring a second back into the backfield, then crossed the two off a play-fake to muddle the read of the defense. Chicago’s edge player collapsed with the run action, allowing Trubisky to slip outside, where he found his backside receiver for the score:

You can see the effect the bootleg action had on the play by studying Trubisky’s read progression. He initially looked at the high-low concept into the boundary from the tight end and running back. Both were covered. But, by escaping the pocket, he had enough time to locate the drag. Had Trubisky thrown that same concept from the pocket, odds are he never would have gotten to that backside read.

Plays like these have been non-existent in Pittsburgh the past few seasons. Their ability to constrain a defense by making defenders play assignment football is another great way to slow them down.

Designed Runs

While it’s unlikely Canada will go heavy on a read-option run game with Trubisky the way Greg Roman does with Jackson in Baltimore, he may dial up a designed run or two when the situation supports it. At a sturdy 6’2”-220 pounds, Trubisky is built to run.

Buffalo didn’t use Trubisky on any designed runs in their preseason game against Chicago. During the regular season, though, he had more runs (13) than passes (8). He was particularly effective near the goal line on bootleg runs like this one, where the defense was ganged up inside and Trubisky could use his effective ball-faking to escape out the back door:

Trubisky ran for between 193 and 425 yards in each of his four seasons as Chicago’s starter. I would expect him to fall somewhere in that range for the Steelers, too.

Extending Plays

The area where Trubisky’s mobility is most beneficial is when it comes to extending plays. These are instances where a scripted play breaks down when a quarterback escapes the pass rush and improvises. Roethlisberger was a master at these earlier in his career, and Trubisky has proven capable as well.

Here, Trubisky gets pressure in his face, so he neatly pivots away, losing ground to clear any potential edge rusher, and sprints from the pocket. This is a polished move on his part, one he has undoubtedly drilled hundreds of times in practice. He looks at ease doing it, and his throw — on the run, to his left — is natural and accurate:

Here’s that move again. The pressure comes, Trubisky pivots, neatly maintains his balance, then takes off and runs for a first down:

On this one, Trubisky escapes pressure from his left by rolling right, then throws a strike on a comeback route almost 30 yards down the field:

All of these examples represent things the Steelers have been unable to do in recent years. Trubisky will not be the pocket passer Pittsburgh had in Roethlisberger, but he will threaten defenses in ways Roethlisberger no longer could. This fits well with the philosophy Canada wants to employ, which is likely why the Steelers targeted Trubisky in the first place.

Now that I’ve pumped you up, take everything you’ve just read with a grain of salt. Trubisky wouldn’t be available to the Steelers if he’d lit the world on fire in Chicago. It’s only because he struggled there that he finds himself with this current opportunity. History suggests quarterbacks don’t often bloom after moving on from teams where they were considered disappointments.

One who did is Ryan Tannehill, whose career was resurrected in Tennessee after an inauspicious start in Miami. Maybe, like Tannehill, Trubisky will benefit from playing for a solid franchise that does not expect him to be a savior. Maybe, in a system that accentuates his strengths, he can follow Tannehill’s arc. That would be a win for both Trubisky and the Steelers.

The good news is that, by all reports, his time in Buffalo was a blessing. Sitting behind Josh Allen and learning from Brian Daboll, the former Buffalo coordinator who is now the head coach of the New York Giants, Trubisky feels he’s found his game again. He had this to say to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler about his time with the Bills:

“Going to Buffalo really opened my eyes. [Being] in Buffalo and [having] a different way of doing things, you learn what’s possible. It helped me get back to instinctual football and using my talents rather than overthinking.”

That “instinctual” football Trubisky re-discovered seems perfect for Canada’s system. Canada’s passing game has never been overly complex, so odds are he won’t ask Trubisky to process too much information. Canada will certainly need Trubisky to improve his pocket play. But, thankfully, he won’t have to confine him there. If Canada can harness Trubisky’s best element — his mobility — while keeping him decisive, the Steelers may have found a solid bridge between Roethlisberger and their next iconic quarterback.

Looking at the contract numbers for players added to the Steelers in Day 2 of free agency

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 8:15am
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Steelers were unusually busy on the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period, and the second day kept the same form.

The Pittsburgh Steelers got business going on Monday as they began to answer some of the questions with their 2022 roster. As for the second day, it carried on with more of the same. Between coming to terms with two players who cannot sign contracts until 4 PM on Wednesday, along with retaining another of their own players, the Steelers did not sit back and wait when it came to free agency.

So after signing players on Tuesday, how much will it cost the Steelers in 2022 and beyond?

Based on reports, let’s check out exactly where these contracts fell in terms of the salary cap for 2022. While some numbers will be precise, others will have to be speculatory based on the overall contract and not knowing the exact breakdown of signing bonuses and the base salaries. For a recap of the salaries from Monday check it out here:

James Daniels

Reported $26.5 million for three years

The #Steelers are signing OL James Daniels to a three-year, $26.5 million deal, sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2022

There are more details on the contract for James Daniels than any of the others the Steelers agreed to on Tuesday. Already having numbers reported at the major salary cap websites such as overthecap.com, Daniels’ contract comes with an $8.75 million signing bonus. With a $1.25 million base salary the first season and $8.25 million the remaining two seasons, this contract is structured very similar to Chuks Okorafor but ever-so-slightly less. Therefore, the salary cap number before displacement comes in at $4,166,666. The cap hits jump to over $11 million over the final two years of the deal, but the Steelers could get out of the contract for roughly half that next season if things fall apart in a worst-case scenario.

Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $3.35 million

Levi Wallace

Reported $8 million for two years

Breaking: Former #Bills CB Levi Wallace has agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh #Steelers on a 2-yr deal worth $8M, per sources.

— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 15, 2022

Since all that is known about Levi Wallace’s contract at this point is the total value and the years, we know that the most it would be for 2022 salary cap is $4 million. This would be the case assuming the Steelers paid no signing bonus which seems to be very unlikely by both the team and the player. To do a rough estimate of the way the Steelers would probably structure this type of contract and split the payments evenly between the first two years, there could be a $1 million base salary with a $3 million signing bonus and $4 million coming the second year. If this is the case, the lower end of the salary cap hit would come in at $2.5 million before displacement. To be a little safer, perhaps the Steelers pay out $5 million the first year, meaning $1 million base salary and $4 million signing bonus, and leave $3 million the following year. If so, that leaves the 2022 cap hit at $3 million before displacement. Remember, this is my guess as to how the contract could be structured.

Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $2.2 million (max $3.2 million)

Montravius Adams

Reported $5 million for two years

Defensive lineman Montravius Adams is signing back with the Steelers on a 2-year, $5 million contract, per his agents @DrewJRosenhaus and @RyanMatha.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2022

Much like the contract with Wallace above, we know Montravius Adams will not cost more than $2.5 million against the salary cap this year. Assuming he is getting a signing bonus, and assuming the money was split evenly over both years which may or may not be the case, Adams could be looking at a $1 million base salary, and a $1.5 million signing bonus. To make the numbers a little simpler, I’m going to pay Adam‘s $3 million the first season, with $1 million base and a $2 million signing bonus, which leaves $2 million the next season as a base salary. That makes an estimated even $2 million salary cap hit before displacement. Remember, once again, this is my guess as to how the contract could be structured.

Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $1.2 million (max $1.7 million)

After looking at all five of the players the Steelers reportedly added to their team on Monday, it cost approximately $12.8 million against their salary cap space for 2022. For just Tuesday, the three players came to an estimated total of approximately $6.75 million and no more than $8.25 million (assuming no signing bonuses were given), giving a two-day total of approximately $19.5 million. Remember, these values count after displacement, meaning they only count towards the salary cap the difference in salary of the player they knocked out of the top 51.

It’s hard to say if the Steelers will be slowing down when it comes to free agency. The Steelers will have to eventually make some other roster moves at some point. With their remaining cap space, not including the salaries of Miles Killebrew and Arthur Maulet which have not been officially reported, the Steelers remaining salary cap is below what they will need for signing their draft class, the final two players on the roster come September, paying their practice squad, and having money to carry into the season for regular business. But notice three of those things do not come into affect until September, so even a last-minute contract extension, a restructure, or a higher-salaried player not making the roster could help to get to this amount even after the preseason is concluded. So for now, the Steelers still have the ability to manage things in regards to the 2022 salary cap after two big days of business.

Tyrann Mathieu could be the perfect piece for the Steelers defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 7:00am
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The veteran safety is running out of teams who could use his services. But the Steelers should be one of the final contenders

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busy bees at the start of the 2022 NFL free agency window. Not only have they re-signed and tendered some of their own players, but they have already come to terms on a number of free agent deals. One position which still desperately needs to be addressed, and should be addressed in free agency, is the strong safety position. This should be a very desirable landing spot for any strong safety across the league because playing beside Minkah Fitzpatrick allows you to roam more and know you have one of the best free safeties in football beside you. One of those options is former All-Pro and Pro Bowler Tyrann Mathieu.

The former Kansas City Chiefs safety was a leader in the room and a beast on the field, but that organization decided to go in another direction. It was expected Mathieu would land in Baltimore or New Orleans if he couldn’t come to terms with the Chiefs. But then the Baltimore Ravens signed Marcus Williams and the Saints followed that up by adding Marcus Maye. All of a sudden the three most likely suitors for Mathieu’s talents are already out of the market… could those teams’ losses become the Steelers reward? If the team can negotiate properly then it absolutely could be.

You could argue that Tyrann Mathieu is one of, if not the best, strong safety in the sport. Pairing him with a talent like Minkah Fitzpatrick would create one of the most dominating duos the league has ever seen. Sure, it would not come cheap; however, their abilities on the back end makes the mind race at the on-field potential. The Steelers would get a locker room leader and one of the best athletes in the game today if they could swing a deal like this. One former Steeler even thinks the team is already in on the former LSU Tiger.

Steelers trying land the Bagerr

— Terence Garvin (@T_Garvin28) March 16, 2022

The salary to land such a player will probably net somewhere in the $15 million per year range, but with the amount of space the Steelers still have, and can create, they can pull off a deal like this. With the Steelers in a transition on offense, looking to add talent to the defensive side of the football to make the unit as strong as possible will only make the team as a whole better. Also I don’t think drafting a strong safety is a real option considering the Steelers other holes on roster and lack of depth at the position already. Sure, the easy move would just be to re-sign Terrell Edmunds, but if this team really wants to take this group to the next level they should sincerely consider pulling the trigger on Tyrann Mathieu.

But what do you think? Will the Steelers add a strong safety in free agency and should they chase the best one available in Tyrann Mathieu? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Steelers fans wanted a big free agent splash, and they got it with Mitch Trubisky

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It didn’t take long for the Steelers to make a splash during the first wave of unrestricted free agency. It also didn’t take them long to try and find the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger with the signing of Mitch Trubisky.

Splashes may often be loud, wet and painful, but you know them when you hear, see and feel them.

The Steelers made one on Monday, the first day of legal tampering, when it was announced the team had reached an agreement on a two-year deal for free-agent quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Wow.

And I said I’d believe it when I see it.

Now, I believe it.

The Steelers had more than their usual amount of cap space at the onset of free agency, and I sure wondered if they’d use it to be major players during the first wave when news is often fast and furious.

What did the Steelers do? Oh, they just used some of their money to sign the presumed heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger.

I mean, you spend years wishing the Steelers had more cap space. You spend many springs bemoaning the fact they’re never major players in free agency. Yet, the second they have the money to become major players, they use it on the most high-profile position in all of team sports.

No pressure, Mitch, none at all.

Obviously, there will be pressure on Trubisky to succeed. After all, it’s not every day one must try and replace a future Hall of Famer, and not just at any position, but at THE position.

However, there’s also pressure on the Steelers to find their next quarterback sooner rather than later. But even though they made a splash, they did it in the most practical way imaginable for what they’re trying to accomplish.

In other words, the Trubisky signing is risky in that the Steelers will have to pay him a decent wage to come in and be their starter, but it’s not going to break them and take up every last penny of cap space. Also, at just two seasons, the deal isn’t going to cripple Pittsburgh for years, should Trubisky not be able to make the prolonged leap from No. 2 overall pick in 2017 to franchise quarterback five or six years later. Lastly, Pittsburgh didn’t have to give up multiple first-round picks to obtain both Trubisky and any sort of baggage other than questions about his abilities, and Deshaun Watson wasn’t the only veteran quarterback who would have come to Pittsburgh with considerable baggage.

The Trubisky deal is out of character for the Steelers, but is it, really? When was the last time they had to address the quarterback position in a major way? Not since Roethlisberger was drafted, of course. As I always said, the Steelers weren’t going to go about finding Roethlisberger’s heir apparent, at least in a bold way, until he was gone.

Roethlisberger is now off in the sunset doing his retirement thing, and the Steelers have made their first bold move by signing Trubisky to be his realistic successor.

Wow, the Steelers really did make a loud and wet splash during the first wave of NFL free agency.

But will it be painful? I guess that’s up to Mitch Trubisky.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/16/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

The Live Mike: How free agency will affect the Steelers

The Steelers were plenty active on the first tampering day of free agency. What do the initial deals mean immediately for the black and gold? Join Michael Beck on the latest edition of The Live Mike as he helps Steeler Nation navigate through the 2022 offseason and beyond. This week BTSC’s Deputy Editor previews free agency for the Pittsburgh franchise.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • How free agency will affect the Steelers
  • and MUCH MORE!
BTSC Breaking News Podcast: The Steelers bolster the line by agreeing to terms with Chicago’s G James Daniels

The NFL Tampering Period is now under way as free agents around the league are free to move around the league. The Steelers got into the action early Mondy by agreeing to terms with Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, Center Mason Cole and re-upping with Chuks Okorafor. Now it looks like Kevin Colbert and company are bringing in an interior lineman in the form of James Daniels. What do these moves mean for the Men of Steel? Join BTSC Editor Dave Schofield and Podcast Producer Bryan Anthony Davis for a report on all we know right now on another Breaking News Podcast.

The Scho Bro Show: What’s next for the Steelers after the initial free agency wave?

The front office is making moves and adding pieces that fit the Pittsburgh Steelers puzzle. They aren’t finished, but what direction are the Steelers headed in next? This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Scho Bro Show.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the black-and-gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • What’s next for the Steelers after the initial free agency wave?

Dave and Rich walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Let’s Ride Wednesday: Stop whining about the Steelers free agent activity

The Steelers have been active in free agency so far. However, they aren’t all marquee names walking through the door and there’s a whole lot of griping and gripping on social media. Things need to be put in perspective. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Putting Steelers signings in perspective
  • The Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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