When last we left you in Step Two of our “Fixing the Steelers” series we had carved out a significant amount of salary cap space. In fact, there was approximately $33 million left when all was said and done. Unfortunately the cuts we made left some gaping holes on the roster. Most notably was the fact that we need to find a quarterback for the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers. Fixing the Steelers Step Two: Cuts, Keeps, and Extensions
Fixing the Steelers part three focuses on rebuilding the roster for the 2021 season. This will include one trade, and some medium size free agent signings:
The trade we propose is the Steelers sending their third round pick to the Raiders for their backup quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota is a twenty seven year old former second overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. He is a big (6’4”), mobile quarterback who would fit in nicely for what new offensive coordinator Matt Canada likes to run. For more on this trade check out or post here: Steelers should trade for Marcus Mariota
The Steelers would have to immediately extend Mariota, turning his ten million dollar salary into a bonus for a multi-year deal. Let’s call it a three year, $30 million deal that would lower his cap number to six million for 2021.
David Andrews (Center) – 3 years, $21 million
Jonnu Smith (Tight End) – 5 years, $45 million
Fabian Moreau (Corner) – 1 year, 2.5 million
Jesse James (Tight End) – 2 years, 6 million
Total Cap Hit 2021: $19 million
The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t usually dip their feet to deep into free agency. This off-season they will have to spend a good portion of the money they saved to fill out the roster.
In David Andrews the Steelers get a solid veteran center who can buy them some time until they can draft a long term solution. Andrews brings loads of experience to Pittsburgh including two Super Bowl trophies. The website Spotrac places his value at three years, and $21 million. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/all/center/
Next we went for a bit more high end talent with tight end Jonnu Smith from the Tennessee Titans. Smith is a former third round pick out of small school Florida International. He’s coming off an excellent season where he caught 41 passes for 448 yards, and 8 touchdowns. At only 25 years old, there is still more time to improve into one of the better tight ends in the league. Spotrac had him at 5 years at $10 million per, which we thought was a little high. Smith’s stats don’t match up to Austin Hooper’s when he hit free agency. We went a tick lower at $9 million per over the same five years.
Finally, Pittsburgh will need to bring in some cheaper veterans to help with depth. We picked Moreau who has some draft pedigree, and the fact he shouldn’t cost too much. At this point it could be any number of veteran corners the Steelers could pick to fill our the roster. There is a very good possibility that old friend Jesse James ends up a cap casualty in Detroit. If so, expect the Steelers to snap him up as an excellent second tight end.
Where we’re at:
At the conclusion of Fixing the Steelers Step Three we have filled out the roster to some extent. The Steelers have themselves a brand new quarterback in Marcus Mariota. He brings much needed athleticism and youth to the position. The team also added a few key free agents to fill in depleted positions. Pittsburgh added a total of $25 million in this segment. That leaves a nice cushion of $8 million for the draft and other costs. The free agent signings could be manipulated even more to get further savings in 2021 if needed.
Next we will look to the draft for Step four of our fixing the Steelers series. The team will need to add more offensive line depth in the draft. Most importantly left tackle will be one of the main targets for round one. Corner, running back, and another tight end will also be on the short list. Look for Step Four around late February as we delve into draft season.