With the weekend here, it’s a good time to look back at how the Pittsburgh Steelers fared in the first week of NFL free agency. While some, like myself, think new general manager Omar Khan has done a good job so far, what does the national media think?
CBS Sports writer Garrett Podell put out grades for every NFL team’s free agency so far and gave the Steelers a grade of “B.” Podell referenced that losing cornerback Cameron Sutton wasn’t great but the team brought in an adequate replacement and also filled holes.
“While losing Cameron Sutton isn’t ideal, replacing him with one of the NFL’s active co-leader in interceptions, Patrick Peterson, is a solid pickup for two years and $14 million,” wrote Podell. “Peterson totaled five interceptions this past season, the second-most in his entire career, and had a 79.7 coverage grade, the eighth-highest among all cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus.”
While Sutton is younger, more versatile, and a better player than Peterson is at this point in his career, bringing in a veteran like Peterson for less money than Sutton is not necessarily a bad move. It is no secret that Pittsburgh wants to upgrade its cornerback room in the NFL Draft, and paying $11 million per year for Sutton who may have had to move back to slot would not have made the most sense based on value.
Moving on, the Steelers also made moves to bring in depth at offensive guard and shake up their inside linebacker room. Podell specifically pointed out the signings of guard Nate Herbig and linebacker Cole Holcomb as moves he liked for Pittsburgh.
“Nate Herbig on a two-year, $8 million contract is a nice depth addition. Same goes for linebacker Cole Holcomb who comes over to replace former first-round pick Devin Bush on a three-year deal. It’s early, so not much other activity for Mike Tomlin’s club, but a solid start to the offseason.”
Herbig has a chance to compete for the starting right offensive guard spot with Kevin Dotson this offseason, and even if he doesn’t win it he provides much-needed depth God forbid Dotson or James Daniels get hurt. Steelers Depot’s own Josh Carney did a film room on Herbig and he is an absolute people mover. If he wins the job he will help out mightily in the run game.
Moving to Holcomb, he is a speedy linebacker who is strong against the run and can get sideline-to-sideline. While he is weaker against the pass, that is something the Steelers will have to address either at the NFL Draft or later on in free agency. Jonathan Heitritter did a film room on what to expect of Holcomb in Pittsburgh and broke down his game.
The addition of former Miami Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts also helps out the Steelers’ run defense. Just this past season Roberts made 10 tackles for a loss, showing that he has no issues getting in the backfield and stopping the run.
There are still areas Omar Khan has to improve this team on. Pittsburgh needs a young cornerback to play on the outside, some depth at the tackle positions, a coverage linebacker, a slot receiver, and maybe even a slot cornerback. Luckily for the team, there is still a lot of time and the Steelers have already filled out some needs. There’s a ways to go to make this team a Super Bowl contender but only a week into free agency Khan has done a good job and deserves his grade of a “B.”