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NFL Draft

3 Offensive Free Agents Steelers Should Target

  • The Draft Network
  • February 23, 2021
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the NFL's more challenging salary cap situations for 2021. With an aging roster headlined by soon-to-be 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers could be set to move on from the longtime signal-caller—especially if the two sides can’t agree on a restructured contract.

Not only has Roethlisberger potentially played his last snap as a Steeler, but they also lost center Maurkice Pouncey, who retired alongside his twin brother Mike just weeks ago. With JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Connor, and Alejandro Villanueva—all key cogs on offense—set to enter free agency, general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin have a massive hill to climb to return Pittsburgh back to AFC supremacy. 

On the other side of the ball, there are fewer questions, but depth is always welcomed. Bud Dupree’s exit has left a hole opposite T.J. Watt, and linebacker Avery Williamson is set to explore the open market as well, but we'll leave potential defensive additions for another time. 

Currently sitting $26M over the cap, Pittsburgh seems on the outs for any of the headliners in this year’s class. However, with the potential cut of Roethlisberger and completion of other linear transactions, Pittsburgh could fit itself in position for a few key names in this year’s free agent class. 

With Roethlisberger hypothetically cut, here are three potential offensive targets the Steelers could look to sign when free agency begins.

Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Mack’s 2020 season ended in a blink of an eye following an Achilles tear. He will be good to go by the start of offseason workouts and would provide the Steelers with a true RB1 option without breaking the bank.

Not only has he progressed into one of the league’s top rushers, but Mack is excellent in pass protection, consistently working with pristine execution and fundamentals as a blocker, a trait rarely seen in today’s game. He’s an all-around back similar to Le’Veon Bell, and would immediately earn the bulk of the carries in front of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland. Out of USF, Mack arrived quietly onto the NFL scene, landing in Indianapolis as a fourth-round selection in 2017. Following his rookie year, Mack exploded for 908 yards and nine scores in 2018, a precursor to his 2019 campaign where Mack totaled over 1,000 yards in just 11 games. 

Now healthy, Mack could return to pre-injury form as Pittsburgh’s starting running back.

Austin Reiter, C, Kansas City Chiefs

Who? Let me help you out. 

Again, Pittsburgh is cap-strapped and will have minimal wiggle room in free agency. Sure, Corey Linsley or Alex Mack would be ideal, but Colbert simply doesn’t have the money to dish out. Reiter would provide a nice stop-gap option to groom J.C. Hassenauer for future seasons. Hassenauer played well in relief of Pouncey in 2020, but if Roethlisberger weren’t to return, a veteran option as the anchor of Tomlin’s line seems like the ideal scenario. Reiter has appeared in 59 career games in five seasons, starting 28 of the 31 games played over the last two campaigns. For cheap, Reiter would offer Pittsburgh a veteran presence with Super Bowl experience as the anchor up front. 

Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams

With Smith-Schuster set to explore the open market, Diontae Johnson looks primed to enter WR1 conversation in Pittsburgh. However, behind him and Chase Claypool, there’s a dramatic lack of pop. James Washington was drafted to stretch the defense, but has failed to become the Steelers’ deep option in three seasons. He must develop in the intermediate area and progress as a complete wideout. Thirty catches in 2020 won’t cut it as Pittsburgh’s WR3.

Enter Reynolds, a 6-foot-3 potential target hog whose numbers could skyrocket in the correct scheme. 

Working behind Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, Reynolds carved a key role in Rams head coach Sean McVay’s hybrid offense. In 13 starts, Reynolds amassed 52 receptions for 618 yards, good for 11.9 yards a catch. He touts excellent YAC ability with elite route-running skills and an overall skill set that mimics Claypool, as they both possess an uber-athletic frame centered around a strong base with excellent contact balance.

Every move Pittsburgh does or doesn’t make this spring centers around No. 7’s future. Either way, their cap is tight, which limits their transaction window. But, with Dwayne Haskins now in the wings, Mike Tomlin could opt for the younger arm, and with that, usher in a new era of football for one of the NFL’s most historic franchises.

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