By Jeremy Hritz
It was an unprecedented week in Steelers free agency, as every day, signing after signing was announced. From bolstering their offensive line with James Daniels and Mason Cole, to stabilizing the middle backer position with Myles Jack, to stockpiling at cornerback with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon, the Steelers were the aggressor in the early stages of free agency. While the roster is definitely improved over the 2021 season, there are still 2 more positions the team must address in the coming days: safety and wide receiver.
Right now, the team is devoid a strong safety to start alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick, and fans have been clamoring for the signing of Tyrann Mathieu, or the Honey Badger if you prefer. Mathieu is about to turn 30 in May, and while a dynamic football player, his cost, and questions about how much high-end football he still has left, make him a choice the Steelers are probably not entertaining.
What is more likely, and what I am hopeful of, is the return of Terrell Edmunds. Surprisingly, Edmunds has not inked a deal with another NFL team, despite the Steelers encouraging him to test free agency, which gives hope to the possibility the team can retain him for at least a 5th season. Edmunds just turned 25 in January and has plenty of football ahead of him after delivering his best season as a Steelers in 2021. Couple that with the knowledge of the Steelers defensive system, personnel, and coaching staff, and it is the smart move to re-sign him to maintain stability on the backend of the defense.
Additionally, the Steelers need to make at least one move in free agency at the wide receiver position now that Juju Smith-Schuster has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Currently, there is no veteran leadership in the WR room, and that is going to be a necessity with the likes of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool still coming into their own as players. Possibly a player like Jarvis Landry, 29, or T.Y. Hilton, 32, could be brought in on a 1-2 year deal to stabilize the position and to offer direction as both Johnson, Claypool, and whichever rookie WRs are added in the draft.
The Steelers’ front office deserves kudos for their activity in early free agency, as they have ensured the roster is built for competitiveness. However, without making 2 more significant moves at safety or wide receiver, they will have to rely exclusively on the draft, which is not a wise approach. Look for signings at both of these positions coming within the next few days, as Kevin Colbert and company understand the consequences of not replenishing these positions.