The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary is going to look much different in 2022. For the first time since 2017 Joe Haden will not be CB1 for this franchise. There is also a very good possibility that this team will have a new strong safety come September. Four year starter Terrell Edmunds remains unsigned with just over a week to go before the draft. The moves made to bolster this group thus far have been lees than impressive. Let’s take a closer look at each position, and see why there is real reason for concern with this group heading into 2022:
The group of corners the Steelers will trot out in 2022 is less than impressive to say the least. Free agent acquisition Levi Wallace is a steady, but unspectacular corner at best. He’s a decent number two corner with a very poor athletic profile. This is by no means a shutdown corner. Much the same can be said about Cam Sutton. He struggled in his first year as an outside corner, and may be destined for a return to the slot.
Now we come to the wildcard of the entire secondary. How Akhello Witherspoon plays in 2022 will be the single most important factor in the success or failure of this group. There was a time last season where Witherspoon looked every bit the part of a number one corner. He finished the season with three interceptions, and nine passes defended. There is another side of this player however. Witherspoon has had an up and down career in the NFL so far. A former third round pick of the 49ers, Witherspoon could never nail down a consistent starting spot over his four years in San Francisco. After signing a one year free agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks, he would not play a single game with that team. Apparently unimpressed with their new signing, the Seahawks traded him to Pittsburgh right before the 2021 season started. There’s no questioning Akhello Witherspoon has the talent to be a number one corner in this league, but the Steelers are taking an awfully big risk that he has finally taken that step after five years in the league.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is the sole Pro-Bowl type talent in the entire Steelers secondary. He is without question one of the top safeties in the league. Who will play along side of him remains in question. This franchise currently does not have a starting quality strong safety on the roster. Terrell Edmunds remains unsigned, but is unlikely to return. The team not picking up his fifth year option has undoubtedly left some hurt feelings. The rumors of the Steelers signing Tryann Matthieu have quieted significantly as of late. The most likely scenario at strong safety is a draft pick. Adding a rookie safety to this already questionable group only furthers the concerns about this secondary. https://www.dkpittsburghsports.com/2022/04/17/2022-nfl-draft-rankings-safety-dale-lolley-terrell-edmunds-kyle-hamilton-daxton-hill-update-analysis-steelers-fdl
In a perfect world Akhello Witherspoon becomes a lockdown corner, the Steelers sign Tryann Matthieu, and the Steelers secondary becomes an integral part of their success. Perfect worlds rarely exist in the NFL however. It was around this time last year we warned that this team’s offensive line needed everything to go right, or else disaster was certain. Well, disaster is exactly what we got in 2021 from that unit. Will the Steelers offensive line be their undoing in 2021?
The more likely outcome is that this unit struggles the entire season. With a real lack of top tier talent at corner, and a potential rookie at strong safety, the outlook for this group isn’t as good as most seem to think. This franchise will be more reliant than ever in it’s pass rush to cover up the warts in the secondary. Barring some late additions, the Steelers secondary will in fact be a weakness in 2022.