Column | Moves the Steelers should make this off-season


AP Photo | Matt Freed

Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Derek Watt, right, celebrates with his brother T.J. Watt after scoring during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023.

By David Scott, Staff Writer

The 2023 offseason is crucial for the Steelers’ future success. If they get it right, they can propel themselves into a strong playoff contender. If they get it wrong, they jeopardize the development of quarterback Kenny Pickett and the team as a whole. 

The Steelers have plenty of needs like offensive line and cornerback, but can utilize free agency, the 2023 NFL Draft and the trade market in order to bolster their squad. 

The Steelers have seven picks in this year’s draft and are in a good position to address a lot of their needs through rookie talents. According to Pro Football Focus, they currently hold picks No. 17, No. 32, No. 49, No. 80, No. 120, No. 195 and No. 236.

At No. 17, I have the Steelers taking wide receiver Jordan Addison. Fans will either love this pick or hate it. No matter the fan reaction, reuniting a quarterback with their college receiver is a proven recipe for success in the NFL. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle, and Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith all played together in college and have since become deadly duos in the NFL. It makes too much sense to make Jordan Addison a Steeler.

With their next pick, I have the Steelers making a trade. Outside of the offensive line, cornerback is the Steelers’ biggest need, and instead of taking a rookie this year, why not pick up a player who is proven to be among the best at his position? The Rams may make Jalen Ramsey available this offseason and, after trading away their future for a Super Bowl win, the Rams are desperate for draft picks. No. 32 and maybe a future pick would get Ramsey in black and gold.

Offensive tackle Darnell Wright out of Tennessee could end up in Pittsburgh in the second round. Wright is incredibly athletic for his massive size. At 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 335 pounds, he is explosive off the snap and fleet-footed, making him efficient against both power rushes and outside moves. 

With their third-round pick, the Steelers can grab defensive tackle Keondre Coburn out of Texas. The Steelers have a lot of players on the defensive line heading into free agency, and it’s cheaper to replace them in the draft rather than re-sign them. Coburn is a great, scrappy player who consistently gets through the gaps and causes disruption in the backfield.

Center Joe Tippmann out of Wisconsin is a great option at No. 120. Pittsburgh has invested heavily in the interior of the offensive line in recent years, but nothing has stuck for them. Tippmann is a 6-foot-6-inch tall, 315-pound athlete who is extremely experienced at his position. He and Wright offer a huge upgrade for Pickett’s protection.

Linebacker SirVocea Dennis is perfect for the Steelers in the sixth round. Not only is it fun to project Pitt players to the Steelers, but it makes a lot of sense. The Steelers need linebacker help, and they practice in the same facility that Dennis does. The Steelers know what he can do, and he has impressed this week at the Senior Bowl. Keeping Dennis at home is a home run for the Steelers.

Finally, at No. 236, I have the Steelers getting safety Tyreque Jones out of Boise State. They are clearly fine at the position, as Minkah Fitzpatrick is the best safety in football. But they could use some extra depth there, and that’s exactly what Tyreque Jones would provide.

The Steelers have a few big names hitting free agency, with defensive end Larry Ogunjobi and cornerback Cameron Sutton among these potential departures. Cap space is also an issue for Pittsburgh. As of Feb. 5, they have slightly more than $1 million available and will need to do a lot of work to make more money available for when free agency opens. If they cut quarterback Mitch Trubisky, they could save close to $8 million, and have various other options to create cap space.

Ogunjobi and Sutton need to be re-signed, along with safety Terrell Edmunds. They should attempt to sign linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, Edmunds’ brother, who had a very productive year with the Buffalo Bills. Also, defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne had a fantastic career in Washington and would bolster the Steelers’ defensive line.

They should also look to pick up an offensive lineman in free agency. George Fant from the New York Jets or Matt Pryor from the Indianapolis Colts are solid options and not too expensive.

With a strong offseason, the Steelers move right back where they belong, fighting for playoff wins and in the hunt for a Super Bowl. If they follow a similar model to this, the Steelers will continue to be a force for years to come.