It’s time. The Steelers Super Bowl window has closed with this current group of veterans. At one point this team had the most talented group of offensive players in the entire league. Superstars at every position. All that got them was one AFC Championship blowout, and many more playoff disappointments. The “Killer B’s” will go down as the biggest waste of talent in NFL history. The worst possible thing the Steelers can do now is prolong the inevitable. History is filled with franchises that hold on to stars too long., and then pay the price for it. That would be a huge mistake for the Pittsburgh Steelers especially considering this group. The Ben, Bell, Brown era brought this team nothing but headaches and disappointment. It’s time to blow it all up, and start rebuilding around the younger stars like TJ Watt, Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, and James Conner.
Let’s start with the easy one. Le’veon Bell is about to leave via free agency, and the Steelers should be overjoyed by this. Don’t go do anything silly like putting any sort of tag on Bell again for 2019. For all his great talent, Bell has had equally great shortcomings. Drug suspensions, hold outs, and injuries have all tainted what should have been the greatest running back in Steelers history. Le’Veon Bell has no place on this roster with the emergence of James Conner. Let some other team gamble millions in guaranteed money on the shaky health, and even shakier character of Le’Veon Bell. Take the third round compensatory pick and run.
The next player who should be shown the door is Antonio Brown. A storm is brewing with this player, and it’s only a matter of time before he completely self destructs. AB has had so many issues this season it’s almost too many to list. This latest snafu has to be the final straw. The Steelers can not afford to bring back a player who turned his back on the team at the most crucial point of the season. Don’t give me the cap ramifications, or the fact that he’s irreplaceable on the field as excuses. This is bigger than all of that. This is how players look at your organization. The Pittsburgh Steelers have become a laughing stock around the league. We used to point at other teams and say “see, this is why they don’t win”. Now we are that team. Trade Antonio Brown while he still has value, and show the world his kind of behavior will not be tolerated in Pittsburgh.
Well you’ve gotten rid of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, what’s the sense of having an aging quarterback still on the roster? The warning signs are there that Ben Roethlisberger has started to decline. It may be hard to see sometimes because of the gaudy passing numbers he threw for last season. Look closer though at the high number of interceptions, and his jittery pocket presence. In an article to come, I will dive deep into how this is the perfect opportunity to trade Ben Roethlisberger, and get a huge haul in return. The Steelers have already started the process by drafting Mason Rudolph.
As far as the coaching staff goes, one thing is painfully clear. At the very least Keith Butler and all his coaches must go. I’d be willing to bring Mike Tomlin back with the disclaimer that he must go outside the organization for a defensive coordinator. This team needs a fresh start on defense. Randy Fitchner has been better than expected, especially considering this is his first year calling plays in the NFL. Let’s see what Mike Tomlin can do without the constant distractions and nonsense from the me-first players he’s had over the past five years.
I know its a hard pill to swallow, but this team is not winning a Super Bowl with the current group of players. To think Antonio Brown will suddenly start behaving, Ben Roehtlisberger can hold back Father Time, or that there’s enough cap space to fix the defense in one year is fools gold. The smart move is to cut bait with these players and start collecting assets. Sure 2019 will be a painful season with all these stars gone, and the cap hits they will take because of it. Just think of adding multiple first round picks to an already impressive young core of players. Kevin Colbert has quietly put together a group of young stars like James Conner, Ju Ju Smith Schuster, TJ Watt, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt. We have also seen glimpses from this year’s draft. There’s optimism that players like Terrell Edmunds, JamesWashington, Jaylon Samuels and even Chuks Okorafor have shown enough to be counted on going forward. It’s never easy to walk away from aging superstars. Most teams don’t do it in time, but the ones that do are better off in the long run. Now is that time for the Pittsburgh Steelers.