We might be in the middle of the offseason in the NFL, but there’s still plenty going on with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with the Steelers with these questions:
1) What’s going on with Le’Veon Bell? Will be he signed to long term deal? Will he even be on the team?
Le’Veon Bell still hasn’t been signed to a long term deal but GM Kevin Colbert is optimistic a deal can get done.
“I don’t like to get into too much detail,” Colbert said. “I can say this, I’m optimistic. But the common ground [between the two sides] are never final until they’re final.”
The Steelers have not used the franchise tag on Bell this year and they have until March 6 to use it. Their options are:
a) Sign him to a long term contract – that’s what both sides want and were close to reaching last year.
b) Exclusive Franchise Tag – the Steelers would have Bell for this year at $14.5 million and he wouldn’t be allowed to negotiate with other teams. This is the tag the Steelers used last year.
c) Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag – Bell could negotiate with other teams. If he reaches a deal with another team, the Steelers have the right to match it. If they don’t match it, the Steelers get two first round picks from that team.
d) Transition Tag – the same as the non-exclusive tag but the Steelers wouldn’t receive any draft picks if they didn’t match the offer.
e) Let him become a free agent – why would they do that? Cap space, that’s why. If he’s signed only for this year at $14.5 million, that would be massive cap hit for this year. If they sign him to a long term deal, it’ll put less of a cap hit on this season. The feeling among people that don’t want to keep Bell is that he costs too much, much more than any other running back. They can use that free money to get defensive help or a cheaper running back.
2) Are the Steelers trying to trade Martavis Bryant?
There have been rumors that the Steelers are shopping or listening to offers for Martavis Bryant. Kevin Colbert shot them down today. “We have never ever made one phone call about Martavis Bryant for a trade,” Colbert told reporters Wednesday at the scouting combine. “Martavis Bryant is a Pittsburgh Steeler and we want him to continue to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. A lot of kids don’t make it back from a one-year suspension, but he did. We are not in the trade market for [Bryant].”
This makes sense as it would be idiotic for the Steelers to trade Bryant for a few reasons:
a) He’s in the last year of his contract so in theory he’ll be at his best.
b) He’s only making $705,000, which is extremely affordable for a starting wide receiver.
c) The Steelers wouldn’t get much for him in a trade.
3) What is Ryan Shazier’s status?
Colbert said Ryan Shazier will not play next season as he is still recovering from the spinal injury he suffered against the Bengals in December. “Ryan Shazier won’t play in 2018,” Colbert said. “He knows that, and we know that. We’re going to continue to support him in his recovery.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise as he’s still having trouble standing and walking, but Colbert did say he would be involved with the team.
“He will be part of our team officially, and really unofficially because he’s still with us day-to-day as he rehabs,” Colbert said. “He involves himself in team issues so he can be a formidable member in 2018.”
Shazier has stated that he plans on playing football again.
4) Who are the Steelers looking at in the draft?
The Steelers main needs in the draft are: Inside linebacker, Safety (because Mike Mitchell will be gone) and maybe running back if Le’Veon Bell isn’t with the team.
Here are some of the players the Steelers might be looking at:
a) Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama: Ironically he compares to Lawrence Timmons, who the Steelers might reacquire if he gets released by the Dolphins. Evans is projected to go to the Steelers at the 28th pick but he could go as high as 19 to the Cowboys or 17 to the Chargers.
b) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: He probably won’t be available for the Steelers as he’s projected to go 10th to the Raiders or 11th to the Dolphins. He would be the perfect replacement for Shazier – a speed demon who’s good in pass coverage and the running game.
c) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State: He could play outside linebacker but could also be an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Many mock drafts don’t have him going in the 1st round though.
d) Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: He might be the fastest player in the draft. He’s been compared to Tyrann Mathieu.
e) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Would the Steelers take Ben Roethlisberger’s heir apparent even though Ben has stated he wants to play another few years? This is highly unlikely.
f) Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: If the Steelers don’t sign Le’Veon Bell, Guice would be a good replacement as he’s can run inside and catch.
If the Steelers don’t take a linebacker in the 1st round, these linebackers might be available in the second round: Jerome Baker or Ohio State or Darius Leonard of South Carolina State.