Free Agency Moves
The Pittsburgh Steelers did not have a quiet off-season. The franchise may not have made a ton of huge moves, but there is no doubt that change is in the air in Pittsburgh for several different reasons. In terms of free agent moves, the Steelers went out and added a couple of offensive veterans that will add to this franchise’s depth.
Pittsburgh brought in running back DeAngelo Williams on a two-year deal, which will certainly be a big boost for Le’Veon Bell and the rushing attack. Williams won’t get the number of snaps that he did during his days in Carolina, but he’s got plenty left in the tank to contribute to this offense.
Graphic via thesportsquotient
The Steelers also added long snapper Brandon Hartson to the mix, as he will compete with current long snapper Greg Warren for that spot on the squad. While not a signing that will turn a lot of heads, it’s an important position, and Hartson will add some nice depth to that specials team unit.
Assessing Pittsburgh’s Draft
It’s safe to say that the Steelers got a steal (no pun intended) with their first selection in this year’s draft. Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree was considered by many to have Top 10 talent, so when Pittsburgh snagged him with the 22nd pick, it was a big-time get for this successful franchise. Dupree is the type of player that Pittsburgh will need during this year’s defensive transition.
Speaking of defense, that’s what Pittsburgh focused on most during this year’s selections, as only two of their eight choices came on the offensive of the ball. Sammie Coates was one of those, and the former Auburn wide receiver has the tools to make some noise down the road given the speed that he brings to the table.
While it’s still early to judge the Steelers’ other selections, the fact that they were able to get Dupree so far down in the draft was enough to give this squad a passing grade for their efforts.
Other Off-Season Notes
Defensively, the Steelers had about as much change as they’ve had in a long time. Not only did veteran safety Troy Polamalu announce his retirement from the game, but Pittsburgh also saw long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau leave his post.
Those two moves could certainly bring about a bit of uneasiness for Steelers fans heading into the new campaign, as the defense will undoubtedly look quite a bit different. New defensive coordinator Keith Butler will have his hands full in trying to get this defense where it needs to be, but luckily with a solid core at his disposal, the transition could be easier than expected.
Looking Ahead to the 2015 NFL Season
The Steelers made their return to the playoff last season after two straight 8-8 campaigns, and they’ll be looking for back-to-back division crowns this year. The pre-season slate will get rolling with the Hall of Fame game against the Minnesota Vikings, and then it’s off to Jacksonville for Mike Tomlin’s squad for the first real pre-season game of the new year. But of course, the most anticipated game for this Steelers team will be the season-opening road clash with defending Super Bowl champion New England.
That won’t tell us everything we need to know about this Pittsburgh team going forward, but it should give us an idea of whether or not this defense will be up to par and ready to support this team’s run at a Super Bowl title.
Graphic via bleacherreport