On January 10th, 2021, The Pittsburgh Steelers were flat out embarrassed in the first round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Browns. It only ended up being a difference of 11 points, with the final score being 48-37, but for fans who watched the game start to finish, they know that it wasn’t close. Clearly this was not the way Steelers fans envisioned their season ending when they were riding high at 11-0. After losing 5 of their last 6 games to end the season, and a bunch of question marks going into the off-season, where do the Pittsburgh Steelers go from here?
At this point in time, it is almost impossible to determine the roster, the coaches, or even some of the front office for next season. Nobody knows whether or not the Steelers want Ben Roethlisberger back for next year, Maurkice Pouncey is thinking of retirement, the cap situation is a mess, there are a number of significant free agents that Pittsburgh might be losing, and now Kevin Colbert might be elsewhere along with cap wizard Omar Khan. There could be a complete overhaul with the entire team if both Khan and Colbert are gone, as they would be absolutely huge losses for the Steelers. Without experienced executives and managers in the front office, there may be an inability to make the cap space work with Ben’s huge contract. If Ben, Khan, and Colbert are all gone, we may see a very different looking Steelers team heading into 2021.
But where exactly are the Steelers heading? What’s next for them? The next thing they have to do unfortunately, is make a lot of tough decisions. They have to make decisions on what coaches will be back, what players will be back, and most importantly, if Roethlisberger will be back. It seems as though the rest of dominoes will probably fall as soon as the decision on Ben is made. If Ben stays, we’ll probably see Pittsburgh struggle with cap space, and some players will have to walk in free agency. If Ben is not kept around, then the Steelers will have more wiggle room in free agency and it won’t be as difficult to get the cap situation right. However if Ben is gone, there will be more questions with the NFL draft. Will Pittsburgh take a QB in round 1, or will they give Mason Rudolph a shot to prove that he can be their guy?
Ben not being with the team would certainly lead to OC Randy Fichtner not being with the team as well, as Ben is probably the only reason the Steelers kept him around for this past season anyway. If those two are in fact gone, the Steelers would have a lot of decisions to make as far as free agency, the trade market, and as mentioned before, the draft. There is optimism among the Steelers fan base that Pittsburgh could look towards Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 24th pick in the draft, but if Ben is gone, there will be a huge hole in the most important position on the team. Not too long ago, it seemed that it was a guarantee that Pittsburgh would go either OT or HB in the draft. However, as the days go on, the rumors about multiple people within the Steelers organization not being here next year continue to develop, and we may have to come to the realization that a complete overhaul might be inevitable.
We don’t know who Pittsburgh is looking to resign and let walk in free agency, we don’t know who in the front office will stay with the team, we don’t know whether or not Ben will be our QB next year, and we don’t know who the Steelers will be targeting in the draft, as they could potentially have more holes with the roster then we initially thought. Overall, there is a lot of uncertainty heading into next season, and the only things that Steelers fans can do heading into this offseason is prepare for anything and everything to change.
Image courtesy yahoo sports