Unrestricted Free Agents Custom Your Own Jersey

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of issues to deal with this offseason. One of them is the pending decision surrounding Ben Roethlisberger Jersey and his $41 million salary cap hit, and another would be the questions surrounding the salary cap for the upcoming season.

While we don’t know the actual number for the 2021 salary cap, it is never too early to think about who the Steelers should, or could, keep in free agency.

Some fans might suggest doing this is frivolous considering the Steelers’ salary cap position heading into the 2021 league year, but I would suggest taking a realistic approach to this exercise can prove to be valuable.

I’ve broken down the Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) into offense and defense. I have placed all Restricted Free Agents (RFA) and Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA) into their own category, considering they will all likely be returning with the organization having the right to first refusal on those players.

Take a look at the lists below, and let us know who should stay, or let walk, in the comment section below!

Offense
Alejandro Villanueva Jersey — LT — UFA
Matt Feiler Jersey — RT — UFA
Zach Banner Jersey — RT — UFA
JuJu Smith-Schuster Jersey — WR — UFA
Danny Isidora — RG — UFA
James Conner Jersey — RB — UFA
Jerald Hawkins Jersey — RT — UFA
Joshua Dobbs Jersey — QB — UFA

Defense
Bud Dupree Jersey— EDGE — UFA
Avery Williamson Jersey — LB — UFA
Mike Hilton Jersey — CB — UFA
Tyson Alualu Jersey — IDL — UFA
Jayrone Elliott Jersey — EDGE — UFA
Cassius Marsh — EDGE — UFA
Jordan Berry Jersey — P — UFA
Chris Wormley Jersey — IDL — UFA
Sean Davis Jersey — S — UFA
Jordan Dangerfield Jersey — S — UFA
Cameron Sutton Jersey — CB — UFA

Specialists
Jordan Berry — P — UFA

RFA/ERFA
Ray-Ray McCloud Jersey — WR — RFA
Marcus Allen Jersey — S — ERFA
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi Jersey — EDGE — RFA
J.C. Hassenauer Jersey — C ERFA
Robert Spillane Jersey — LB — ERFA

Okay, time to play the game! Who are your priority signings, and who should the team let test the free agent waters? Try to be realistic throughout this exercise. For instance, the odds of the Steelers keeping Dupree, Hilton and Sutton are small.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Cameron Heyward received at Custom Your Own Basketball Jersey

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One of the biggest questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line entering the 2020 season was how well Stephon Tuitt would rebound from a torn pectoral muscle.

The injury limited Tuitt to nine games in 2019 and, with three years left on his contract, he needed to prove he was worth his $9 million base salary.

Tuitt erased any doubts about his health and his paycheck by getting at least a half sack in four of the first five games. He made a career-high 15 starts, missing one game because of covid-19, and established a career benchmark with 11 sacks, which ranked second on the team.

Tuitt’s success also was partially because of the extra attention Cameron Heyward received at defensive tackle. Heyward, who had 29 sacks combined over the previous three seasons, had his total drop to four, his fewest in a full season as a starter. But Heyward’s continual presence in the pocket contributed to the Steelers leading the NFL with 56 sacks.

The bookends of the Steelers defensive line are under contract for at least two more years — Heyward has four years to go on his deal — which will provide the organization time to fill in the pieces elsewhere.

When nose tackle Javon Hargrave Jersey took the free agent riches offered by the Philadelphia Eagles, Tyson Alualu moved into a starting role for his first time in four years with the Steelers. In his 11th NFL season, Alualu brought a steady presence to the Steelers while moving from defensive end, and he had two sacks and a career-high five pass breakups.

The Steelers, though, find themselves in a similar position at nose tackle as last offseason. Alualu will be an unrestricted free agent in March, and he will turn 34 before the season begins. Alualu showed he still is a productive player in a limited role in the base defense, and the Steelers could try to coax him back with another two-year contract, which would be his third with the team.

If Alualu doesn’t return, the Steelers can try to plug in Carlos Davis, who appeared in seven games but played just 54 defensive snaps as a rookie. Davis earned a roster spot late in the season over another former seventh-rounder, Isaiah Buggs Jersey, who was inactive for three of the final four games of the regular season and for the wild-card playoff game against the Cleveland Browns.

The defensive line depth also includes Henry Mondeaux, an undrafted free agent who made his NFL debut against Tennessee and played in the final 11 games of the year. Although he was used sparingly on defense, Mondeaux was a regular contributor on special teams after his promotion from the practice squad.

The Steelers also signed defensive linemen Calvin Taylor and Demarcus Christmas to futures contracts after the season ended. Taylor (14 weeks) and Christmas (nine) were members of the practice squad last season.

Chris Wormley, who had one sack in 13 games, is the team’s other unrestricted free agent on the defensive line.

Offseason outlook: Defensive line

Returnees

Cameron Heyward Jersey, 4 years left on contract, $14.55 million cap hit for 2021

Stephon Tuitt Jersey, 2 years left on contract, $14, 940,750 cap hit for 2021

Carlos Davis Jersey, 3 years left on contract, $803,376 cap hit or 2021

Isaiah Buggs, 2 years left on contract, $892,158 cap hit for 2021

Henry Mondeaux Jersey, 1 year left on contract, $780,000 cap hit for 2021

Others under contract

Demarcus Christmas, 1 year left on contract, $780,000 cap hit for 2021

Calvin Taylor Jersey, 1 year left on contract, $660,000 cap hit for 2021

Free agents

Tyson Alualu Jersey, unrestricted, $3.625 million cap hit for 2020

Chris Wormley Jersey, unrestricted, $2.133 million cap hit for 2020

Tomorrow: Inside linebackers

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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.