The 2022 season marked the start of a new era for the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the first time since 2004, they were without longtime starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who retired in the offseason. Pittsburgh was also without general manager Kevin Colbert as he stepped down following 22 years with the organization.

Despite the many big changes, Pittsburgh was just one win away from making it to the playoffs. The team finished the season 9-8 and eighth in the AFC, losing to the Miami Dolphins in a tiebreaker. Most importantly, rookies Kenny Pickett and George Pickens had their moments and look like the future of the franchise. Additionally, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick earned his third First-Team All-Pro while linebacker T.J. Watt bounced back from his preseason injury.

Still, if Pittsburgh wants to return to the playoffs, it needs to address some areas ahead of the 2023 season. Although many of the top free agents are off the table, there are still some valuable names who could contribute in the 2023 season.

With that being said, here is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ biggest need to address after the first week of the NFL Free Agency.

Steelers’ biggest need after first week of NFL free agency: Offensive tackle

One area that the Steelers should focus on improving this offseason is the offensive line. With Pickett set for a breakout sophomore year, Pittsburgh could use a lot of help from its linemen protecting him.

In 2022, the team finished with the seventh-worst scoring offense in the league, putting up just 18.1 points per game. Regarding passing yards, Pittsburgh had 3,411 in the regular season, placing it No. 24 among all teams. Most notably, the Steelers ended the year at the bottom in passing touchdowns with only 12.

While having a rookie quarterback certainly played a role in those numbers, the team should consider bringing more bodies to the offensive line group. More specifically, at the tackle position.

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As of now, the Steelers only have starters Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor as tackles under contract for 2023. If any of them goes down with an injury throughout the season, Pittsburgh could have a big problem finding a replacement. Because of that, it should consider signing another offensive tackle.

An option that is still available is Donovan Smith. After eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he was released to clear some cap space.

He started in 124 games from 2015 to 2022, the sixth-most of any offensive lineman in the league. However, this past season, he had a pass-rush win rate of 78.3% and a run-block win rate of 64.9%. These were some of the worst marks of his career.

While his numbers were down, Smith could be a valuable backup and potential starter if needed. With his postseason and even Super Bowl experience, Pittsburgh could have him as a mentor to the youngsters.

Another path is to consider taking an offensive lineman in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Steelers currently own the No. 17 pick plus the No. 32 overall (first pick of the second round), which means they are in a solid position to land some of the top tackles in the class.

Some possibilities at No. 17 are Georgia’s Broderick Jones, Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, and Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski. At No. 32, the Steelers could land Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison or Ohio State’s Dawand Jones.

Regardless of how Pittsburgh addresses the situation, it should seriously consider bringing in another offensive tackle. That way, the Steelers would have depth in the offensive line, which can come in handy later in the season and could offer better protection to Pickett in his second year in the league.