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Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 early free agency targets for the offseason

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell short of the playoffs in 2019 with Ben Roethlisberger being sidelined for nearly the entire season. The upcoming offseason is going to be an interesting one for a team that is not going to have much money to spend.

Heading into the offseason, the Steelers are projected to possess less than $1 million in cap space (second-lowest in the NFL) per Spotrac. Of course. that will likely be subject to change after the franchise makes a couple of roster decisions.

In the regular season, Pittsburgh was able to manage an impressive 8-8 record. Considering the circumstances, the Steelers can chalk up the 2019 campaign as a successful season for the franchise.

Even though they overachieved in 2019, the Steelers have plenty of voids to fill on the roster. In light of that, here are three early free agency targets for Pittsburgh this offseason.

3. Charles Clay (TE, Arizona Cardinals)

Back in 2015, the Steelers had Heath Miller playing in his final season in the NFL. Over his 11-year career, Miller became a fan-favorite in Pittsburgh and was an underrated tight end in the NFL.

Since his departure, the Steelers have been unable to find a reliable option at the tight end position. This offseason, the Steelers could decide to part ways with Vance McDonald to save nearly $7 million.

As a result, a veteran like Charles Clay is a decent option for Pittsburgh at tight end. Clay spent the 2019 season with the Arizona Cardinals in a limited role. But just two seasons ago, he hauled in 49 passes for 558 yards and two touchdowns with the Buffalo Bills.

2. Neville Hewitt (ILB, New York Jets)

The Steelers made a remarkable decision to trade up to select Devin Bush in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Alongside Bush, Pittsburgh paired him with safety-turned-linebacker Mark Barron.

Without a doubt, Barron didn’t play as well as the team anticipated him to. Given that, the Steelers could choose to move on from Barron after just one season if that is what they desire.

To replace Barron, Pittsburgh could consider signing an under-the-radar option like Neville Hewitt. For the New York Jets, Hewitt started in 12 games in 2019 and totaled 72 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions.

1. Phillip Dorsett (WR, New England Patriots)

Last offseason, the Steelers chose to send Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders following a fallout with the franchise. With Brown gone, JuJu Smith-Schuster was expected to take the mantle as the Steelers’ No. 1 wide receiver in the offense.

However, due to injuries and a revolving door at quarterback, Smith-Schuster was inefficient in 2019. Besides Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh lacks reliable options at the wide receiver position.

Therefore, it would be wise for the Steelers to add a wide receiver with Roethlisberger expected to return from injury in 2020. Among all of the veteran wide receivers available, Phillip Dorsett would be an interesting option. Dorsett, a former first-round pick, corraled 29 receptions for 397 yards and five touchdowns in 2019.