3 Players Steelers Must Cut in 2022 NFL Offseason

Joe TanseyNovember 23, 2022

3 Players Steelers Must Cut in 2022 NFL Offseason

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 13:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints at Acrisure Stadium on November 13, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers will sit in an unusual position in the NFL offseason.

    The Steelers will likely own a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL draft, and they may move on from some veteran players from their 2022 roster.

    Pittsburgh should embrace a full rebuild with Kenny Pickett as the face of the offense. He took over as starter from Mitch Trubisky this season, and there is no reason for Trubisky to be back in 2023 on his current contract.

    The Steelers could shed some money in other spots as well in order to set themselves up for success in years to come.

    The AFC North side is mostly set on offense with Pickett, Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens secured for the long term.

    Some of the big changes could happen on defense, where there are some hefty contracts taking up some salary-cap space.

Mitch Trubisky

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    PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 16: Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after running the ball for a first down during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    It is hard to justify paying a backup quarterback $8 million.

    Mitch Trubisky is scheduled to make that much as his base salary for the 2023 season.

    Pittsburgh is slated to have Trubisky and Kenny Pickett on the books for next year, while Mason Rudolph is set to become a free agent.

    The Steelers did not move Rudolph this past offseason when the situation opened up for the former starter to be moved.

    Pittsburgh may be better off re-signing Rudolph on a smaller deal to be Pickett's backup instead of paying Trubisky more money to stand on the sidelines.

    Trubisky may have a trade market as well depending on how the offseason shakes out for teams in need of quarterback improvements.

    The Steelers still need a serviceable backup to fill in for Pickett if he gets hurt, and they can find that in Rudolph if he re-signs and Trubisky is let go.

Cameron Heyward

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 20: Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (97) runs onto the field during the national football league game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 20, 2022 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Cameron Heyward has been a key piece of the Pittsburgh defense for over a decade.

    However, Heyward is now 33, and he is scheduled to make a ton of money in the next two years.

    Heyward is set to make $15.8 million next season and $16 million in 2024 to finish off a four-year, $65 million contract, per Spotrac.

    The offseason could be the perfect time for the Steelers and Heyward to amicably split ways as the team looks to free up cap space and get younger across the board.

    Pittsburgh already has over $100 million invested in T.J. Watt, and it needs to spread around the cash across its defense and the offensive line to make the roster deeper as it rebuilds toward success either next year or in two seasons.

    The two sides could always talk about Heyward returning on a cheaper deal, but from a money perspective, it does not make a lot of sense for the Steelers to be locked into Heyward at that age and price, even if he is a franchise stalwart.

Ahkello Witherspoon

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    CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Ja'Marr Chase #1 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a touchdown as Ahkello Witherspoon #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers defends on the play at Paycor Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    Ahkello Witherspoon has had a rough season in the Pittsburgh secondary.

    The cornerback allowed a catch on 22 of the 29 targets sent in his direction. The 75.3 percent completion rate is much higher than the 37.8 percent completion rate he produced in 2021.

    Before he joined the Steelers, Witherspoon had a pass-catch against rate under 60 percent in three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

    Witherspoon's performance in 2022 does not warrant the opportunity to be around in 2023 and beyond. He is due to make $4 million in 2023.

    Pittsburgh has other corners who are playing better football this season, and it could get younger at that spot in the draft.