For many in Steelers Nation, it has taken quite some time to get over the defeat in the AFC Championship Game, a game many thought the Steelers could actually win. That dream was quickly obliterated with All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell’s injury in the first quarter. With ample time to swallow that defeat and get over another Patriots Super Bowl victory, I present to you, The Pittsburgh Steelers Ideal Off-Season Scenario.
Pittsburgh Steelers Ideal Off-Season Scenario
Over the next 40 days you will see mock draft after mock draft, hot take after hot take of who your favorite team will select. It’s impossible to predict who will be selected and in what round. And that’s what makes the NFL off-season so intoxicating.
The possibilities are endless of who your team can end up with. The anticipation; the anxiousness; the hopefulness; the elation; the disappointment. Steelers fans will experience all of these emotions from April 27th to April 29th.
The first edition of this series will focus on the NFL free agency and whom the Steelers should target.
Subsequent articles will focus on a dream scenario of draft picks for the Steelers. With four picks in the top 105 selections, the Pittsburgh Steelers have an excellent opportunity to build upon a successful 2016 season.
Free Agency Looks
Many anticipate Cockrell signing elsewhere, and that would leave a pretty large gap in a promising secondary. The Steelers young secondary exceeded most standards for rookies in the NFL, and they have a strong foundation to build upon. Signing an experienced free agent would be an outstanding addition to a young secondary.
If Cockrell does in fact take his talents elsewhere, expect the Steelers to take a stab at some of the experienced cornerbacks in free agency.
Even though his career began in hated Cincinnati, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick seems like a guy that would fit perfectly in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately though, it seems as if Kirkpatrick may be commanding too much money for the Steelers at this point.
These scenarios all depend on price and timing, and the Steelers are notoriously slow and calculated when it comes to free agency. It’s been nice over the past few seasons to see the Steelers open up the checkbook and pay for much needed free agents such as safety Mike Mitchell and tight end Ladarius Green.
Even though the Steelers have an usually high amount of cap space to work with in 2017, don’t expect them to make any big free agent splashes. Expect the Steelers to hold off and wait for the first few big deals to occur – and then subsequently find value towards the middle or end of free agency.
If Cockrell does in fact leave, the Steelers will certainly need to find value in the draft as well as via a free agent signing to be successful in 2017.
The Lawrence Timmons Question
The biggest question with inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is if he’ll take a team friendly deal to stay in Pittsburgh. Timmons was then rookie head coach Mike Tomlin’s first draft pick for the Steelers. Certainly don’t downplay the sentimental value there.
Not only has Timmons been the epitome of a professional football player in Pittsburgh, he’s been the anchor of the defense for seven of the ten years he’s played. Some will say Timmons is beyond his prime and has lost a step, but I’m one of the biggest “L.T.” supporters and would love to see him back in Pittsburgh next year.
If the Steelers in fact don’t resign Timmons, one name makes sense in free agency – and that is Gerald Hodges, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers. Hodges enjoyed a breakout campaign and was one of the only bright spots for the 49ers last year.
With 83 total tackles, three sacks and two interceptions from the middle linebacker spot in a 3-4 defense, Hodges certainly impressed. This free agent addition makes too much sense not to happen if Timmons does in fact leave Pittsburgh. An addition like Hodges would help to replace a long time fan favorite.
Next Up in the Series: Rounds 1-3 of the Draft
The next article in this series will focus on players that would be ideal fits for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although impossible to “mock-draft” exactly who will be taken and where, one can examine some possibilities ahead of the draft.
Expect the Steelers to go defensive heavy once again in 2017 as this draft class is loaded with defensive talent. With the Steelers signing wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, expect the Steelers to bolster their secondary and linebacker corps in the early rounds of the NFL Draft.