Steelers' Early Report Card for Most Impactful Offseason Decisions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2022

Steelers' Early Report Card for Most Impactful Offseason Decisions

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    David Eulitt/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been one of the NFL's most stable and successful franchises. Under head coach Mike Tomlin, they have never experienced a losing season.

    However, the Steelers will be tested in 2022. Longtime starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has retired, while the rival Cincinnati Bengals have emerged as one of the best young teams in the NFL.

    Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are still lurking in the AFC North as well, while the Cleveland Browns just traded for three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson. For the Steelers, success this season is not guaranteed.

    However, Pittsburgh did have a playoff roster in 2021 and has had a solid start to the offseason. It should at least be in the postseason conversation once again this year.

    The following are three of the biggest decisions the Steelers have made through the first week of free agency and how they grade out based on factors like value and potential impact.

Re-Signing Chukwuma Okorafor and Adding James Daniels

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    The Steelers made a pair of significant offensive-line moves during the first week of free agency. They re-signed right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year, $29.3 million deal and added guard James Daniels on a three-year, $26.5 million contract.

    Okorafor was a solid starter this past season, and while he was responsible for 11 penalties, he allowed only two sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Daniels comes over from the Chicago Bears, where he was similarly mistake-prone but solid as a blocker.

    Daniels started all 17 games for the Bears in 2021 and played 100 percent of the offensive snaps. However, he was also responsible for three sacks allowed and nine penalties, according to Pro Football Focus.

    If new O-line coach Pat Meyer can limit his unit's mistakes, both Okorafor and Daniels will be assets. Pittsburgh didn't overpay for either player, which is huge from a long-term roster-building standpoint.

    Neither signing is particularly spicy, but in combination, they are good for the Steelers.

    Grade: B

Signing Mitchell Trubisky

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    With Roethlisberger gone, Pittsburgh needed to find a starting quarterback for 2022. Mason Rudolph could be a serviceable bridge, but he isn't a long-term answer. Dwayne Haskins, meanwhile, remains very much unproven.

    Former first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky, on the other hand, can be both a bridge and a potential long-term starting option. While he didn't pan out in Chicago, he may have been held back by former Bears coach Matt Nagy. Trubisky was with the Buffalo Bills last season, and Chicago's offense still ranked 30th in passing and 27th in scoring.

    Trubisky is also a mobile quarterback who fits what Tomlin looks for in a signal-caller.

    "Man, quarterback mobility is valued," Tomlin said during his season-ending press conference. "Not only by me but by everyone. It's just a component of today's game, and increasingly so."

    Trubisky will compete for the starting job, and at only 27, he could still emerge as a quality NFL starter. He was well worth taking a chance on, and hisย two-year, $14.2 million deal is a bargain.

    As free-agent options go, this was the best Pittsburgh could have hoped for.

    Grade: A-

Signing Myles Jack

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    No team was worse at defending the run in 2021 than the Steelers. Pittsburgh ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed and yards per carry surrendered. It also ranked 21st in rushing touchdowns allowed with 17.

    Improving the second level of the defense was a priority, and Pittsburgh did that by scooping up former Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack.

    Released in a cap-saving move, Jack was quickly picked up by the Steelers. He signed a reasonable two-year, $16 million deal, which could prove to be tremendous value given what he brings to the table.

    Jack is a versatile and capable sideline-to-sideline run defender who has topped 100 tackles in each of the past two seasons. He logged 108 tackles last season with 62 solo stops and only four missed tackles.

    The addition of Jack should immediately help Pittsburgh slow opposing ball-carriers, and it came at a relatively team-friendly price. Jack will carry a cap hit of only $4.75 million this season and will have only $3.3 million in dead money remaining after 2022.

    Grade: A

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