Steelers Rumors: Latest Buzz, Players to Watch at Mandatory Minicamp
The 2022 NFL season will mark the beginning of a new era for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not at head coach, as Mike Tomlin will be back for his 16th year at the helm, but at quarterback, as Ben Roethlisberger retired following the 2021 campaign to end his career after 18 seasons.
However, it's not yet known who will be under center when the Steelers take the field for Week 1. It will likely be either Mitchell Trubisky, the five-year veteran who signed with the team during free agency, or Kenny Pickett, the rookie out of Pittsburgh who was taken during the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. Mason Rudolph is also back with the team heading into the season.
That QB battle will be one of the top storylines to follow for the Steelers this summer. And it's already started, as the team has been holding OTAs in recent weeks. Now, Pittsburgh is set to hold its mandatory minicamp from Tuesday through Thursday.
As the Steelers' players get back on the practice fields, here's a look at the upcoming schedule, the latest buzz surrounding the team and several players to watch during June.
Mandatory minicamp: June 7-9
Training Camp: TBD in July
Preseason opener: Aug. 13
Regular-season opener: Sept. 11
With the Steelers set to take the field later this week, some of the biggest news is coming off of it. And that's because there are two key players on Pittsburgh's roster who are reportedly looking for new contracts.
According to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick could be a "hold-in" at the start of training camp if he hasn't signed an extension by that point. That means Fitzpatrick would be in attendance, but he wouldn't necessarily participate in drills and/or activities.
Fitzpatrick's situation may not get to that point, though. Kaboly reported that it's "just a matter of coming to terms," as there's mutual interest between Fitzpatrick and Pittsburgh to get a deal done. Fitzpatrick is set to make $10.61 million in 2022, the final year of his current contract.
The other big situation to monitor will be the contract status of wide receiver Diontae Johnson. The 25-year-old missed OTAs, and he's not happy with his current contract situation, per Kaboly. Wide receivers have been getting big paydays this offseason, so Johnson may want to be one of the next to land a big deal.
"How the Steelers do business is they will offer Johnson what they believe is his market value, and there won’t be much wiggle room," Kaboly wrote.
In the meantime, Pittsburgh has Chase Claypool and rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin to take snaps at wide receiver.
On defense, the Steelers recently learned they wouldn't be getting back defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt, who opted to retire after missing all of the 2021 season because of a knee injury. Now, Pittsburgh will have to decide how it will continue to fill that void.
Kaboly reported that the Steelers will likely evaluate their "in-house options," such as Isaiahh Loudermilk and Chris Wormley, before deciding whether to bring another D-lineman into the mix.
3 Players to Watch
QB Kenny Pickett
During OTAs, Trubisky was getting the majority of the first-team reps. But that doesn't necessarily mean the 27-year-old will be the starting QB in his first season in Pittsburgh. Especially if Pickett can prove that he's ready to immediately start throughout the summer.
It will be interesting to see how Pickett develops and whether he can force his way up to No. 1 on the depth chart in time for Week 1. There was also a lot of pre-draft chatter about his small hand size, so the 24-year-old will be looking to prove that he can make the necessary throws to excel at the NFL level.
WRs George Pickens and Calvin Austin III
The Steelers took a pair of wide receivers during the 2022 NFL draft, selecting Pickens during the second round and Austin during the fourth. And with JuJu Smith-Schuster gone, having signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency, there will be playing time up for grabs at the position this summer.
Pickens and Austin are both exciting players with a ton of potential, so they could quickly work their way into the starting mix. Even if they end up behind Claypool, Johnson or others on the depth chart, Pickens and Austin will likely get time on the field in 2022, especially if they prove themselves worthy in camp.
LB Myles Jack
After signing with the Steelers in free agency, Jack could quickly become one of the leaders of this defense. The 26-year-old was a consistent producer over his six seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he will likely continue to be a strong player in Pittsburgh.
How will Jack fit in with some of the other top players in the Steelers' linebacker corps? It will likely go well, and it should be fun to watch that group when it's at full strength throughout the summer and into the season.