The standard is the standard. While some fans are giving the Pittsburgh Steelers a pass for going 8-8 amidst an injury-marred 2019 season, head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert are doing anything but. Regardless of the circumstances, the Steelers expect to be, at minimum, a playoff team on an annual basis. Despite losing Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Stephon Tuitt for a combined 34 games, the Steelers, largely on the strength of their defense, were 8-5 and on the inside track of the AFC playoffs with three games remaining. But their ongoing injury issues and quality of play at the quarterback position led to three straight losses to close out the season, as the Steelers watched the playoffs from home for a second straight year.
Despite last season’s shortcomings, there were certainly some positives the Steelers have taken with them into the 2020 offseason. T.J. Watt, a former first-round pick, has blossomed into one of the NFL‘s premier defensive players. Defensive teammates Joe Haden, Cam Heyward, and Joe Haden joined him in the Pro Bowl, along with 2019 trade acquisition Minkah Fitzpatrick, a former first-round pick who was one of the major reasons why the Steelers went 7-1 during an eight-game stretch.
While Pittsburgh’s defense developed into one of the league’s most formidable units, the Steelers’ offense struggled without Roethlisberger, who is expected to be back for the start of offseason workouts after undergoing elbow surgery last September. The Steelers are also confident that Conner and Smith-Schuster, 2018 Pro Bowlers who are entering the final year of their rookie contracts, will rebound after rocky 2019 seasons. Pittsburgh is also expecting more contributions from receiver James Washington, receiver/All-Pro return specialist Diontae Johnson, and running back Benny Snell. The offensive line, while getting older, is still one of the league’s better units, led by perennial Pro Bowlers Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. Pittsburgh’s special teams received a big boost in 2019, as Chris Boswell returned to Pro Bowl form following his disastrous 2018 season.
Throughout this offseason, we will update this story to provide the most up-to-date information regarding the Steelers.
Key upcoming dates
- Late July: Teams are slated to begin training camp in late July, with many teams expected to open camp on July 28. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steelers will be not holding training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe for the first time in over 50 years. Instead, they will be conducting training camp at Heinz Field, the site of their home games since 2001.
Free agent scorecard
Unrestricted in-house free agents
B.J. Finney – Signed with the Seattle Seahawks
Artie Burns – Signed with the Chicago Bears
Bud Dupree – Signed his franchise tag with the Steelers
Sean Davis – Signed with the Washington Redskins
Javon Hargrave – Signed with the Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Vannett – Signed with the Denver Broncos
Kameron Canaday Re-signed with Steelers (two-year contract)
Tyler Matakevich – Signed with the Buffalo Bills
After enjoying a breakout season in 2019, Dupree signed his franchise tag with the Steelers on April 23. The team still has until July 15 to sign him to a longterm contract.
Unrestricted free agent signings from other teams
The younger brother of T.J. Watt, Derek Watt, formerly of the Chargers, will help replace former Pro Bowl fullback Roosevelt Nix, who was released by the Steelers earlier this offseason before signing with the Indianapolis Colts. A 10-year veteran, Wisniewski won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017 and with the Chiefs this past season. Ebron is two years removed from a 2018 season that saw him catch 13 touchdowns while earning Pro Bowl honors.
2020 NFL Draft picks
The Steelers received a third-round compensatory draft pick for losing Le’Veon Bell in free agency last offseason.
Rumors, reports and updates
June 25: The Hall of Fame announced that it was postponing this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies that includes the previously scheduled Hall of Fame Game between the Steelers and Cowboys.
Tomlin also provided some current position updates. Matt Feiler will open camp as the team’s starting left guard following the offseason retirement of Ramon Foster. Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor will compete to replace Feiler as the team’s starting right tackle. Tyson Alualu will enter camp as the team’s starting nose tackle. That position became open after Javon Hargrave, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft, signed with the Eagles during free agency.
June 23: Mike Tomlin revealed that two Steelers tested positive for COVID-19 back in the spring but have since recovered and have resumed training for the upcoming season.
May 18: Ben Roethlisberger released a hype video of himself throwing passes to several teammates. Roethlisberger is now throwing “NFL caliber passes” and is expected to be ready for Pittsburgh’s season-opener.
May 8: The Steelers received their 2020 regular season schedule. Pittsburgh will be playing four prime-time games in 2020. They will have three on the road and one at home.
April 28: The Steelers exercised T.J. Watt’s fifth-year option. Pittsburgh is still expected to sign their All-Pro outside linebacker to a longterm contract.
“Ryan’s placement on the Reserve/Retired List serves as a matter of protocol to ensure his continued inclusion within our organization moving forward in his professional career,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a team-issued statement.
March 16: Longtime Steelers starting offensive lineman Ramon Foster announced his retirement.
February 25: A little over a week after Mike Tomlin alluded to the fact that the Steelers are not interested in an on-field reunion with Antonio Brown, general manager Kevin Colbert reinforced , who is looking to sign with someone after missing all but one game last season.
“We’re always going to be concerned about Antonio Brown, the person,” Colbert said. “We have moved on from Antonio Brown, and Coach Tomlin addressed that the last time he spoke with the media. We’re worried about Antonio Brown, the person. He will always be a Steeler in that regard, but in that regard only.”