Category Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers Jerseys 2022

Cameron Sutton are younger Build Your Own Hockey Jersey

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After years of searching, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally found a pair of reliable, quality cornerbacks.

It hasn’t come, though, without a price.

Joe Haden and Steven Nelson are due to account for about $30 million in salary-cap space in 2021. That’s roughly a sixth of the team’s total cap. No cornerback duo in the league is signed for more for this coming season for more. There are only five other teams that have more cap space devoted to an entire cornerback position group of up to 10 players than the Steelers do to Haden and Nelson.

The Steelers have a path to address the $15.6 million and $14.4 million hits of Haden and Nelson, respectively, through contract extensions for either or both. But the situation complicates their ability to hold on to their Nos. 3 and 4 cornerbacks.

Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton are younger and, at least measured by Pro Football Focus grades, have been just as good or better than Nelson and Haden (albeit in lesser roles). But Hilton and Sutton are on the cusp of unrestricted free agency. With the Steelers close to the overall cap ceiling and so much invested at cornerback, there is no clear path to bringing Hilton or Sutton back.

While Nelson and Haden held down the outside cornerback spots when healthy, Hilton has spent the past four seasons as among the NFL’s best slot cornerbacks, particularly against the run. The 5-foot-9 Hilton also excels in pass-rush situations and in tackling.

Sutton was the Steelers’ Mr. Everything in recent years, capably deployed as the top backup to all three of the others. And when Haden, Nelson and Hilton were healthy, Sutton was a strong hybrid dime player in subpackages.

The Steelers have no obvious in-house replacements for Hilton or Sutton. Justin Layne, a 2019 third-round pick, earned some playing time while dressing for every game in 2020, but he didn’t show enough for the Steelers to hand him a job as a starting outside corner.

Layne even ceded his spot as the team’s No. 5 cornerback late in the season to undrafted rookie James Pierre Jersey. The 6-2 Pierre has the size, length and physicality the Steelers covet at cornerback, and after a year of development is a sneaky candidate for an increased role. But he, too, is not ready to be a starter.

Former Penn State cornerback Trevor Williams joined 2019 seventh-round Chicago Bears pick Stephen Denmark as reserve/future signings last month. While each has the ability to make the team, expect the Steelers to add youth to the position in the draft and perhaps a low-cost free agent to replace Hilton and/or Sutton if neither is brought back.

Offseason outlook: Cornerbacks

Returnees

Joe Haden Jersey, 1 year left on contract, $15.58 million cap hit for 2021

Steven Nelson Jersey, 1 year left on contract, $14.4 million cap hit for 2021

Justin Layne Jersey, 2 years left on contract, $1.08 million cap hit for 2021

James Pierre, 2 years left on contract, $783,000 cap hit for 2021

Also under contract

Trevor Williams, 1 year left on contract, $990,000 cap hit for 2021

Stephen Denmark, 1 year left on contract, $850,000 cap hit for 2021

Free agents

Mike Hilton Jersey, Unrestricted, $3.26 million cap hit in 2020

Cameron Sutton Jersey, Unrestricted, $1 million cap hit in 2020

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The focus of Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert’s message to the media Wednesday was rightfully on his tepid comments regarding signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger Jersey. Quarterback wasn’t the only position with question marks Colbert touched on, however.

The Steelers general manager noted that regardless of who the quarterback is in 2021, Pittsburgh must get more out of its running game.

“I will look at it from the personnel standpoint,” Colbert said of the run game, per the team’s official transcript. “And the group of guys we had last year — the offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers, the quarterbacks — it did not produce a good running game. I think schematically, that’s up for the coaches and up to coach (Mike) Tomlin to figure that. And my input would be if we need to do certain things schematically, these are the types of players that may be available to help us achieve that.”

The Steelers’ top four running backs combined for 1,230 rushing yards for the 2020 season. Their lead back, James Conner Jersey, compiled 721 yards in 13 games, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, with six TDs. Conner averaged just 2.87 yards after contact for the season, per Pro Football Focus, and lacked lateral explosiveness. With the 25-year-old set to hit free agency, the Steelers’ running back room is likely in for a massive overhaul.

Colbert noted that getting more out of the running game needs to be a group improvement, not just about adding different RBs to the equation.

“Again, it is a collective effort,” he said. “You can’t say the runners weren’t good enough, or the quarterbacks weren’t good enough, or the line wasn’t good enough. To put out the kind of running game we did, no one was good enough. And again, that is a collective effort. We need to be better, quite honestly, just in reference to what Mike (Tomlin) was talking about; we need to finish. And I think having a strong running game helps teams finish in that time of year.”

Injuries and inefficient play along the offensive line helped lead to the struggling run game in Pittsburgh. The Steelers ranked 31st in run blocking according to PFF grades in 2020. With center Maurkice Pouncey Jersey retiring, tackle Alejandro Villanueva Jersey, guard Matt Feiler and tackle Zach Banner (also coming off injury) all hitting free agency, Pittsburgh’s once-sturdy O-line could be also in for a significant makeover.

“As you mentioned, Al [Villanueva] is a free agent, Matt Feiler Jersey is a free agent, Maurkice has retired, Zach Banner Jersey is coming off an ACL, so it is an uncertain group that we have upfront,” Colbert said when asked if rebuilding the line was a priority. “Again, I don’t know where the free agency part will go for both Matt and Al. We know Maurkice won’t be back with us. How that comes together, it will be ongoing. The draft itself, it is stronger at the tackle position than it is at the interior. Center and guard, traditionally, is not a very strong group. In any draft, the tackles are unusually deep this year. I think we can add players through the draft. Hopefully, we will be able to do some type of business in free agency. And we are always going to look at our own players first.”

In an offseason destined to be defined by a salary-cap crunch, the Steelers have a bevy of high-level questions to answer throughout their roster, not just when it comes to the quarterback.

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Come into the world together, get on with your life’s work together. That’s what the Pouncey twins were able to do, after making millions and millions of dollars doing what they loved and rising to the top of their profession as individuals—even if neither ultimately claimed the title that they sought.

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Identical twins, Maurkice and Mike Pouncey have done quite a lot together, but one thing they never got the opportunity to do was to play on the same team in the NFL. They did line up a time or two during Pro Bowl appearances, but that was the extent of their professional interactions outside of when their two teams would play one another.

On Friday, the duo announced together that they would be retiring. Both former first-round picks—Maurkice in 2010 for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mike for the Miami Dolphins in 2011—each of them would rise to the ranks of the best at their respective position, making numerous Pro Bowls, while continually pushing and fueling each other.

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During the season, it came from distance. In the offseason, it was always together. Heading into 2021, that was no longer possibly, with Mike’s injuries that he sustained having already made it highly probable that he would be calling it a career. And for Maurkice’s former teammate, Ramon Foster Jersey, he believes that played a huge role in his decision to retire.

“With Maurkice, if you could read the writing on the wall, his brother Mike had just pretty much had two season-ending surgeries, and the fact that he’s a twin—I think one of the reasons that he and I really linked up a whole lot was because, one, he was really familiar with having somebody next to him, and we became—not as tight as his brother—but we were really, really tight”, he said on the Poni and Muellere Show.

“You knew that, going into the offseason, every time they’re working out, they’re working out together. And if he lost Mike, as far as his workouts, then you felt like he was gonna bow out too”, Foster went on. “Because a guy like myself, who trained solo for a while, I’m telling you, that is a hard mental battle to get up every single day to go work out, to be better, and then still not having a gauge of where you are. At least for Maurkice with his brother, okay, he had a gauge, like, okay, if Mike is here, then I’m here, which means we’re good.”

Football is family…but family is family. And you don’t get closer than identical twins. The Steelers are more than familiar with the family concept—they already have a pair of brothers on the roster in Terrell and Trey Edmunds Jersey and T.J. and Derek Watt Jersey, who also train as families as the Pounceys do—so surely they can understand.