The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to start a new chapter after longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger officially retired at the end of the 2021 season. In a bid to remain competitive, the team recently beefed up its roster by adding reinforcements on both sides of the ball, including Mitch Trubisky, James Daniels, and Myles Jack, just to name a few.
Despite making those acquisitions, the Steelers still have holes left to be filled on their roster. As of the moment, they can still make more moves as they have around $20.5 million left in cap space, per Spotrac. However, they must move quickly in order to still have a shot at the best remaining talents available on the market.
With that said, let’s take a look at the biggest need the Steelers must address after the first week of 2022 NFL free agency.
Biggest need Steelers must address
Last season, the Steelers’ offense lost firepower in their wide receivers unit when JuJu Smith-Schuster went down with a major shoulder injury in Week 5. They were forced to rely on the production of both Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. A huge scoring load was also put on the shoulders of rookie rusher Najee Harris due to their struggles in the passing game, which were also exacerbated by Big Ben’s decline.
In this offseason, their receivers unit has become even more depleted as Smith-Schuster chose to take a pay cut and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The league leader in punt return yards for the 2021 season in Ray-Ray McCloud has also decided to relocate to the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, another wide receiver in James Washington also sought a change in scenery by signing a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
These departures have now left the Steelers’ receiving core with only Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool as legitimate weapons on the field for next season. The former concluded the previous season as a Pro Bowl alternate, while the latter is coming off a disappointing second-year campaign in the league. Though both players have the talent to be productive on the field, the Steelers still need to add more depth, especially for such an important position group on offense.
They added former New England Patriots wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, though he will be helping out primarily on special teams as a return specialist. Currently, the most notable receivers in this year’s free agency class have already been signed to new contracts. However, the Steelers can still make a late run at tenured vets like Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, and Cole Beasley, among others.
If the Steelers prefer to go for youth, they can land their new receiver via the 2022 NFL Draft. As of the moment, they are holding the 20th overall pick, which can be used to target talents like Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks, and Jameson Williams if they are still available by then.
At the end of the day, regardless of the route they take, the Steelers must definitely fill in the vacant hole at wide receiver before the start of their 2022 campaign. All is not yet lost for them at this stage in the offseason, though they will definitely have to be more aggressive in order to land quality pieces that can best help them moving forward.
There are other question marks surrounding Pittsburgh’s new-look roster, and their ability to address those in the weeks to come will determine the level of success they will attain next season.