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kurgan

kurgan 2020 mock offseason v.1

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I am going to take a stab at what I think the Steelers might do here with this offseason.  I had intended to do this around Thanksgiving, but so much was up in the air, and then X mas break was crazy…. But I think I have a good idea of what I think the offseason might look like here.  As always, please discuss and if I missed anything huge, please let me know.  I am trying to do this as what I think is going to happen/the Steelers way as opposed to what I would do, but there are some sprinkles mixed in here and there.

 

OK… so let’s look at the numbers.  Over the cap says I have 4.8 million to work with here.  That is not enough to do much of anything at all.  Sooooo…. Lets do the dirty stuff first (easiest to hardest).

1.     Mark Barron—thanks for providing us cover for the development/drafting of Devin Bush.  Your contributions were good, but you cost too much moving forward.

2.     Tyson Alualu—You have fit in well in Pittsburgh and we value your efforts as well.  This was my LAST cut, but I needed that 3.4 mill in other places.

3.     Anthony Chickillo—I have been one of your biggest defenders, but… for the $ and production, it doesn’t make sense.  This one is the scariest for me, but it is what it is.

4.     Ramon Foster—I know, I think this is the LEAST likely to happen, TBH.  But, production, money and having a person ready to take the snaps makes this a pick that works for me, honestly.  Thanks for all the memories.

5.     Vance McDonald—This one I waffled on for a long time, TBH.  It just comes down to money, and he is not as productive as I want and need from a TE #1.

 

Yuck… I just feel icky now.  But, I have 27.5 million under the cap now.  Time to look at our guys now.  Obviously, the first order of business is ALWAYS our FA, and this is a little complicated.

 

UFA:  Dupree, Hargrave, Burns, Davis, Finney, Matakevich, Shazier, Vannett

RFA: Feiler, Hilton, Banner, Canaday, Dangerfield

 

1.     Target #1 is Bud Dupree.  For me, my feeling is to Franchise him and let him play one more year, and if he performs at the level he did THIS year, sign him long term next year.  I know there is a school of thought to get him to sign long term for less than the tag, but I want him to play one more year before I give him a HUGE deal.  So, the tag is gonna be 16.26 right off the top of that 27.5.  (Aside—I have just priced myself out of resiging Hargrave).

2.     OL time.  I can choose, Finney OR Feiler/Banner.  I choose…. Feiler and Banner.  I pick up their RFA tags.  Feiler is a second round tag at 3.2 and Banner is orginal round tender at 2.1.  Now I WOULD try to sign them long term, but it won’t take much off the cap hit, so I am going to leave it as the tags right now and try to sign them long term before camp.

3.     Mike Hilton is also an intergral part of this defense.  RFA tag for second round and we try to get him longer term as well.

 

OK… getting those 4 drained me out and now I am only 2.6 under, so time to go to the vets with extension offers.  Here is where things get hinky and I am going to have to assume and round since I am not sure of exact numbers and the OTC stuff is confusing.  Also, I am limiting myself to two extensions since that is normally what they end up doing.  Also, we have a special case that might take a conversation to make work.  But, first the business part.

 

The rule of 30% means that I can save less money than before on these contracts.  So, I am going to be conservative.

 

1.     Cam Heyward—extension/restructure/whatever you want to call it.  Get the cap number down and add on some more years.  I am predicting that I can save $3 million by doing this.  This may be low, but it will come out in the wash.

2.     Stephon Tuitt—Same deal.  I know we do this every year, but we can go to him again and turn some stuff into performance bonuses or something.  Again, I think that we save $3 here.

 

With now 8.6 million, we can take care of a couple of other things:

1.     3 million room in season for transactions

2.     2 million rookie draft pool

3.     Nick Vannett signing—2 years X 1 years per.  Middle of the road price tag.  He is a solid #2 and COULD be a #1 if pressed into service.

4.     Tyler Matakevich—3 years X 1 per.  Just above the minimum.  No one can argue that he is the heart and soul of our ST.  He is above average as a ST guy, and can, in an emergency… nevermind.

5.     Kameron Canaday—2 years X 1.6 per.  Just to make it even.  He will get about this for the 2 year deal.

 

Now, I am set except for 1 big issue:  Al Villaneava.  Dude is a straight hoss that is WOEFULLY underpaid at $5 per.  Now… we could just say F it and you signed the contract, but I want to take care of him AND extend him.  I feel like it would go a long way with him to find a way to pay him even a lower rate for a LT, which is $10 per and get him for 2-3 more years.  But, we can’t extend him without giving him a raise, so we are in a bind.  So, we go another route.

We go to Ben and tell him to “make up” for last year and to make Villy right, we need to move SOME of his money to 2021 to get the $5 mil to extend Villy.  I do not want to hamstring 2021 at all by pushing his money that far, but some can be moved to make Villy whole.  If we can get Villy on board for 3 X $10 mil, I would be a happy man, and so would he.

 

Former Steelers FA signings:

·      Javon Hargrave—Arizona Cardinals 4 X $56 million

·      BJ Finney—Tampa Bay  3 X 15.3 million

·      Artie Burns—Los Angles Chargers 3 X 3 million

·      Sean Davis—Las Vegas Raiders 2 X 7.1 millon

 

So, we sign NO outside FA, and do NOT extend Juju or Connor this year.  They need to step up their games.

 

Pre-Draft Position breakdown with Numerical draft priority (1-9):

 

0--QB:  Big Ben, Mason, Duck Hodges, Paxton Lynch, JT Barrett

1--RB: James Connor, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Rosie Nix, Kerrith White, Trey Edmunds, Ralph Webb, Darrin Hall

1--WR: Juju, James Washington, DJ, Holton, Switzer, Cain, Darboah, Custis, Henderson, Anthony Johnson

8--TE:  Gentry, Rader, CSW, Vannett

5--OT: Villy, Chuks, Derwin Gray, Banner

4--OG/C: DDC, Pouncey, Dilauro, Feiler

 

7--DL:  Heyward, Tuitt, McCullers, Buggs, Mondeaux

4--OLB: Watt, Ola, Tuzar, Dupree

3--ILB:  Vince, Bush, UG3, Spillane, Matakevich

0--CB:  Haden, Nelson, Sutton, Layne, Myres, Hilton

3--S: Edmunds, Fitzpatrick, Matthews, John Battle

 

3--ST:  Berry, Bozwell, Canady

 

Draft Needs Tiers—

2-3—TE, DL (tweener)

4—OT, OLB

6-7—ILB, OG

UDFA—QB, RB, WR, CB, P, S, TE, NG

 

Quick Draft Pool Outlook—

Draft is deep in WR/CB, which does not help us, but we should be able to get OL deep, as the IOL is good too.

TE SUCKS!!!  No pure inline blocker TEs that have pass skills, so Gentry is gonna be key here… DL is also short, so we have to get lucky with a DE/DT tweener.

Edge is a sweet spot in 2-4, so I might steal one to replace Chick.

 

Also, a quick note… I am going to do a lot of my own opinions here.  I may vary on what everyone else thinks is important, and also may not take the players for the reasons they would.

 

2.49—Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame  6’6” 255

So, this to me is a two horse race.  It is either Kmet or Pickney.  I want a TE that is the best combo of receiver/blocker.  Hopkins may be higher ranked as a TE, but he is a big slot WR, not at all an inline TE.  Both Kmet and Pickney give me the idea of what we had with Heath (not saying they are Heath, mind you) in that they are capable of playing the inline TE, and can make catches and a difference over the middle of the field and know how to be a big bodied WR when needed.  For me, Kmet is better at it, so I will take him here.  He gets added to the slurry that is Gentry, Vannett, CSW and Rader and another UDFA.  Hopefully, Kmet becomes the best rounded of the guys and can play as TE #1 one day. He will have to take reps and he will take the job from Vannett by midseason.  Gentry can be the RZ threat, CSW blocker, and Vannett can be old reliable that knows the playbook.  Also, will help us in the middle of the field on big downs and open up the big 3 WR to work off of him.

 

ONLY other thought here for me is Pickney (I know it is high) or if some DOMINANT WR slides for some reason.  Idea is the same.  Ben needs help.  Not OL either…

 

3.100(-ish)—Bradlee Anae, Edge Utah  6’3” 265

I know DL is a bigger need, BUT… this dude is here and we need a difference edge, and he is MADE for our scheme.  A standup OLB with heavy hands AND pass rush ability.  Willing and able on the front, he moved around some for the Utes, but will come in and take out Ola and Tuzar for reps on day 1.  Makes losing Chick less of deal, and will play ST.  A pick that makes me excited and a guy I want in black and gold.

 

4.114—Ezra Cleveland, OT Boise State  6’6” 310

Late add here, as he JUST declared.  This was the kid from ULL before Cleveland declared, but the reason is the same.  OL help at both RT and if not, CAN move inside and maybe can play guard with his good footwork.  I see him as a rougher but more technical Feiler from a couple of years ago.  Is a bit on the smaller side for OT, but has the ability.  Is athletic and can add to the RT comp in camp and then let the chips fall on the inside.

 

4.117—RaeQuan Williams, DL Michigan State  6’4” 304

Honestly, if we don’t take a DLman in the second round there is nothing right now between the comp pick and here to really make the need jump up.  Williams is NOT a replacement for Gravedigger at all, he is a gapper and pass rusher that can help us with 5 tech reps and MAYBE some penetrating A gap stuff that Wobble did.  He will pair nice with Buggs to make two young guys that can work and develop.  With Alualu leaving, Buggs will have to step up and Williams becomes the guy that is working behind and getting ready.  Tuitt back here will also help allow him to be more of a project guy.

 

6.179—Logan Wilson, MLB  Wyoming  6’2” 225

WOW, what a long gap in picks.  Ok, another guy like UG3, this guy was a safety that turned/grew into a MLB that plays like a cover backer for the Cowboys.  Not a solid MLB prospect yet, but a willing and violent tackler that will play ST on day one and hopefully take over the Vince role in the future.

 

7.210—Lynn Bowden Jr, WR Kentucky  6’1” 199

Gonna get killed on pre-draft and film due to him having to play QB for the Cats this past year.  Dude is a real player, and needs to work on his WR skills as he is able to come in and affect games with gimmick roles and throws; ala Randle-El.  Can be a long term WR in the mold that the Steelers like; small, quick, explosive.  A weapon that can be used in many ways as he works to perfect his WR craft.

 

UDFA—

QB—Cole McDonald, Hawaii  6’4” 220  (HUGE big armed prospect that is wild and crazy.  Will be fun to bring into camp and have him throw it around)

 

RB—Kennedy McKoy, WVU  6’1” 204  (Local kid that carried the team the last few years.  Can be used for a camp body and to challenge/mimic the abilities of Samuels)

 

OL—Steven Gonzalez, Penn State  6’4” 331  (Our requiste big OG guy that will come in and battle.  Another ‘local’ kid that has at times been dominant in the Big 10)

 

CB—Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern 5’11” 190  (Love watching these kids play, and he is a small dog, big dog dude who plays bigger and talks even more.)

 

S—Nigel Warrior, Tennessee  6’1” 220  (Biggest UDFA this year for us, best S available.  Real shot to make the roster as a well coached free safety type with great bloodlines.)

 

P—Billy Cate, ODU  6’4” 193  (Huge big legged punter)

 

TE—Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State  6’3” 245  (Move TE/H Back role.  Soft hands as well)

 

NG—John Penisini, Utah  6’2” 333 (Camp comp for Big Dan)

 

OT—Alex Taylor, South Carolina State 6’9” 305 (Small school mountain to work for long term)

 

 

 

 

OK, so carried 62 into the draft, and now adding these guys gets me to 77.  Add in 13 for the 90 man roster, but you get the idea.

 

FINAL 53 for 2020 season:

 

QB:  Big Ben, Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch

RB:  James Connor, Jalen Samuels, Benny Snell, Rosie Nix, Kerrith White

WR: Juju, James Washington, Dionte Johnson, Deon Cain, Ryan Switzer, Lynn Bowdon Jr.

TE:  Vannett, Kmet, Gentry, CSW

OT:  Villy, Okorafor, Banner, Cleveland

IOL:  Feiler, Pouncey, DDC, Gray

O=25

 

DL:  Heyward, Tuitt, McCullers, Buggs, Williams

OLB:  Watt, Dupree, Ola, Tuzar, Anae

ILB:  Bush, Vince, UG3, Matakevich, Spillane

CB:  Haden, Nelson, Sutton, Hilton, Layne, Myers

S: Fitzpatrick, Edmunds, Warrior

D=25

 

K: Boz, Berry, Canady

ST=3

 

(IA—Hodges, White, Bowdon, Gentry/CSW, Cleveland/Gray, Williams, Spillane, Myers/Warrior)

 

PS:  Logan Wilson (MLB), Cole McDonald (QB), Trey Edmunds (RB), Anthony Johnson (WR), Kevin Rader (TE), Gonzalez (OG), John Dilario (OG), Alex Taylor (OT), Kindle Viador (CB), Reggie Floyd (S—from another PS).

 

Overview:

 

Offense:

·      QB is led by the man, Ben.  He is backed up by Rudolph, who has a great offseason and starts to calm down and see the game.  Lynch beats out Duck as the salty veteran that can play and help out if Ben goes down again.  He will have a whole offseason, and is talented, and will be chagrined by his last true shot.

·      RB will be a four headed monster.  Connor is the A back, and Snell moves into the role of a true backup.  Samuels will keep his role as a 3rd down option, and takes on more special teams.  White comes back as the speed option/returner that can give a kick to pants when needed.

·      TE… I am keeping 4.  I know that is not the norm, but each will have a different role.  Vannett and Kmet are the true TEs of the bunch, and Vannett will function as the TE guy until Kmet takes over.  Gentry and CSW become role players with a point.  CSW will be the power blocker/pop pass guy and Gentry is the red zone weapon/seam buster, depending on matchups and teams.

·      WR: the added TE and RB come out here, as I am only keeping 6 WR.  Obviously, JJSS, JW and DJ are the true WR locks as Cain becomes the long burner/gunner guy on ST.  Switzer comes back as Ben’s blanket, working underneath and getting easy yards with his boy.  Bowdon is kept as a developmental WR and also gimmick guy as the gameplan calls for it.

·      OL:  Another less body than the 2019 roster with the added TE and RB.  4 tackles and 4 IOL.  Starters with Villy and Banner/Chuks and swing with the other.  Feiler can play in a pinch.  Cleveland is the developmental guy and can play inside.  DDC, Pouncey and Feiler play the inside slots, with Gray serving as the backup and Cleveland in a pinch.  Feiler is the backup C in this scenario, although Gray might be flexible.

·      DL:  Tuitt, Heyward come back to man the edges in base, and the inside gaps in nickel.  Dan takes over as the nose right now, but being pushed by a cross training Buggs and Williams.

·      OLB:  Watt and Dupree are the guys, and are unchallenged.  Battle emerges for the relief role, and will go to Tuzar at the beginning, and Anae longer term.  All are active since they will be special teams deamons.

·      ILB:  Best core IMO.  Bush is the man, and will be flanked by Vince in base, and the emerging UG3 on passing downs as a better LJ Fort.  Matakevich and Spillane make the team in special teams roles, with only Spillane being able to be playable.

·      CB:  Deepest spot on the roster.  Haden, Nelson and Hilton man the 3 starting slots (yes nickel) and Sutton is the man who backs up everything.  Layne is making strides as both a special teamer and as a corner.  Myers was kept for a reason and he is the guy that will step up with a year on the practice squad and will allow the backend to me even more flexible.

·      S: Minkah and Edmunds are the starters and players.  Warrior makes this squad as a 3rd safety but more in the role of a new Dangerfield that is a special teams demon and can play in a pinch.  In this idea, the actual backup safety is going to be Hilton/Sutton or even Myers if one of the starters goes down.

·      ST:  Boz is a top 5 kicker again.  Canady is the man on long snappers.  As much comp as is brought in to camp, Berry still stays as the man.

·      PS: Wilson is the gem here, looking to be a long term Matakevich role.  McDonald will play QB if Duck moves on and will provide a big arm camp dude that can throw it like a lot of dudes in the league.  Edmunds is back on the taxi squad if eligible, or another back.  Johnson is a dynamic player that can be a big body project.  Gonzales, Dilario and Taylor are developmental OL that will make the numbers even and allow the older guys some rest days.  Rader comes back as the local long term TE guy.  Defensively, there is more younger guys on the roster, so Viador as a CB and Floyd as S fill in the lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected lineups:

 

Offense:

Offensive Line:

o   LT: Alejando Villianeava

o   LG: DDC

o   C: Pouncey

o   RG: Matt Feiler (Derwin Gray/Cleveland)

o   RT Chuks Okorafor  (Zach Banner)

Skill (11 Personnel):

o   RB=James Connor (Samuels/Snell)

o   X=JJSS (Cain)

o   Z=James Washington

o   Slot=Dionte Johnson (Switzer)

o   TE=Nick Vannett (Cole Kmet)

 

 

Defense:

o   Base

o   DL: Heyward, Tuitt, Dan/Buggs

o   OLB:  Watt, Dupree (Tuzar)

o   ILB: Bush, Vince (UG3)

o   CB:  Haden, Nelson (Hilton)

o   S:  Minkah, Edmunds (Hilton/Sutton)

o   Nickel

o   DL:  Watt, Heyward, Tuitt, Dupree

o   LB:  Bush, UG3/Sutton

o   CB:  Haden, Nelson, Hilton

o   S: Minkah, Edmunds (Sutton)

 

Special Teams:

o   4 phase (KO, KOR, P, PR)

o   Samuels, Nix, Kmet/CSW, Ola, Tuzar, Anae, Matakevich, Spillane, Warrior

o   Specific Roles

o   Gunners: Cain, Layne (Myers)

o   Returners: White, Bowdon

 

 

 

I think this sets us up pretty well. Not much change from last year, lost Finney and GraveDigger, but might get comps in 2021.  Dupree gets a year to prove his worth, and Ben gets his weapons back and a couple of new toys, maybe.  Otherwise, I was so cap tied, I could not make a big splash like I wanted.

I realize that I am one IOL injury and one S injury away from disaster, but that is just where I am right now.

 

Thoughts???

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Nice work.  A couple of issues.  Heyward in the last year of his deal is not a good person to extend. Not that he is not a good player but that it will not save anything.

I think Tuitt was restructured last season and is not eligible to be done this year

Here are some that fit into the 30% rule.  Remove McDonald and you save just over 6M

Ben, $3,192,308
McDonald, $1,084,615
DeCastro, $1,009,615
Nelson, $951,923
Pouncey, $923,077

The rookie allowance for the Steelers current picks is 5.1M.  That is what you need on draft day.  You can try to save 1.2M and give Hilton a smaller deal.  Give Canaday 750K per year.  no long snapper is worth 1.6M per year. Cutting Mccullers save 1.5M  Rosie  Nix would save another million.

 

Starting to see why this year sucks for the Steelers cap-wise?  The CBA limits their options with the 30% rule.  To get around that they need to give big signing bonuses but the Steelers do not do that.  This could get bloody.  This could have been even worst had the Steelers not traded away draft picks :-)

 

Edited by jebrick

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I am cutting Vance already.

I am not disagreeing with you, I am just working on different information.  I heard on the pod and on several sites that signing/extending Heyward can save $3, and Tuitt or DDC can be done for $3.  If that is not the case, then I need to rethink this whole thing.

I am also thinking Feiler and Hilton get longer deals to knock the money down some, but it would not be a ton.

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I think the difference in contracts between Vance and Vannett is going to be a lot smaller than people think. I think @jebrick made that point. Look at Jesse James' contract. He was paid a lot to be a #2 TE. 

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2 hours ago, MOSteelers56 said:

He was paid a lot to be a #2 TE. 

To be fair,  he was paid as a projected number 1. Their drafting of TJ might have been a hope, but wasn’t a known. 

JJ was a pseudo number 1 for us a lot during his time with the Steelers. His contract shouldn’t be confused with Vannett

if someone wants to give Vannett anything more than $2-$3M per year I say go with god.  

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If Vannett wants more that min salary he most likely wont be back 

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Vannett should get paid about 2-3M per year.  He has not shown much and that is the high end but the Steelers hands are tied

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anyone ever find out what happened to pounceys knee? This will affect the team going forward

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I can see the argument for the Vannett contract.  I had him at 2X2.5 to be fair, but had to trim money and gave him above minumum.

For argument's sake, let's say I save some $ in the longer term deal with Feiler and Hilton that I referenced.  I can move Vannett to more of a contract that is realistic.

 

Any other thoughts??

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A few thoughts ...

I thought I read somewhere that cutting Berry would be a plus capwise. 

I think TE is a good pick for the Steelers round 2 pick, but it depends on who is there in the draft as well.

I like what Bud did in 2019, but he has been an under-performer most of his career. Can we count on him going forward?

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I have not seen that Berry tidbit, but that would change some things.

I agree on the TE slot.... I think there are 2 dudes that really fit in Kmet and Pickney.  Moss would as well if he comes out.  I am not interested in Hopkins or any of the 'big WR' types at all.  I would also take a look at any of the big time big bodied WR that fall.  Anything that helps the offense out that is not a RB I am down with.

I don't see how we have an option at this point.  If we don't bring back Dupree, we cannot afford to get anyone else worth a crap.  Yea, we could get Hargrave and a mid-tier FA, but I am not sure that is the answer for our window.  Plus, with the tag, he is basically on another prove it deal and we are not on the hook for more than a year.  Then we will have more data.

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22 hours ago, kurgan said:

I am going to take a stab at what I think the Steelers might do here with this offseason.  I had intended to do this around Thanksgiving, but so much was up in the air, and then X mas break was crazy…. But I think I have a good idea of what I think the offseason might look like here.  As always, please discuss and if I missed anything huge, please let me know.  I am trying to do this as what I think is going to happen/the Steelers way as opposed to what I would do, but there are some sprinkles mixed in here and there.

I always enjoy reading your stuff.  You put a lot of thught into your work.  

OK… so let’s look at the numbers.  Over the cap says I have 4.8 million to work with here.  That is not enough to do much of anything at all.  Sooooo…. Lets do the dirty stuff first (easiest to hardest).

1.     Mark Barron—thanks for providing us cover for the development/drafting of Devin Bush.  Your contributions were good, but you cost too much moving forward.

Agree!

2.     Tyson Alualu—You have fit in well in Pittsburgh and we value your efforts as well.  This was my LAST cut, but I needed that 3.4 mill in other places.

Tough on, but strictly a cas saving move. I agree as well.

3.     Anthony Chickillo—I have been one of your biggest defenders, but… for the $ and production, it doesn’t make sense.  This one is the scariest for me, but it is what it is.

We are three for three thus far.  Chick has been one of my biggest disapointments, because I thoght that he had the makings of being a solid rotation OLB/Pass Rusher.

Time to upgrde here!

4.     Ramon Foster—I know, I think this is the LEAST likely to happen, TBH.  But, production, money and having a person ready to take the snaps makes this a pick that works for me, honestly.  Thanks for all the memories.

I made no secret abou this in previous posts. Great guy and great for the team, but too much $$$ and I would prefer a mauler there. What about Zach Banner at LG? He can't pull as well, but his drive blocking is vicious.  I don't like moving successful pieces (Many suggested putting Matt Feiler there).  Matt played very well at RT and I like him and DeCastro together.  Originally, I wanted to move Pouncey because I hink Poincey would be a pretty good OG.  Ben likes his Center, so that probably wouldn't happen.  Big Zach would put 350 LBS of big loving :D on some DT's and NG's and I don't see him getting pushed back like we saw from Pouncey and Foster at tmes.

5.     Vance McDonald—This one I waffled on for a long time, TBH.  It just comes down to money, and he is not as productive as I want and need from a TE #1.

I am with you here as well. I like Vance and think he would put up pretty good numbers with Ben at QB.  I screamed for most of the year that Mason and Duck did not properly use the TE's.  I like resigning Vannett, but he is a very good #2 and would be fairly average as a starter.  If we get rid of Vance, who do we sign?  The high priced guys wil cost more (Hunter Henry and Eric Ebron).  The draft does not seem strong at TE from what most have said thus far. We would be in quite a questinable position with no Vance.  I would be all for cutting him, but who can we get to replace him?  That scares me. 

 

Yuck… I just feel icky now.  But, I have 27.5 million under the cap now.  Time to look at our guys now.  Obviously, the first order of business is ALWAYS our FA, and this is a little complicated.

 

UFA:  Dupree, Hargrave, Burns, Davis, Finney, Matakevich, Shazier, Vannett

RFA: Feiler, Hilton, Banner, Canaday, Dangerfield

 

1.     Target #1 is Bud Dupree.  For me, my feeling is to Franchise him and let him play one more year, and if he performs at the level he did THIS year, sign him long term next year.  I know there is a school of thought to get him to sign long term for less than the tag, but I want him to play one more year before I give him a HUGE deal.  So, the tag is gonna be 16.26 right off the top of that 27.5.  (Aside—I have just priced myself out of resiging Hargrave).

I would take the chance and sign him long term and get some cap relief now. I don't see him regressing in play or at least signifigantly.  Bud is a great pair with Watt. i would go fairly deep here in the pockets franchising him. I save whatever I can because we will need ILB depth, OLB depth, and some other help. 

2.     OL time.  I can choose, Finney OR Feiler/Banner.  I choose…. Feiler and Banner.  I pick up their RFA tags.  Feiler is a second round tag at 3.2 and Banner is orginal round tender at 2.1.  Now I WOULD try to sign them long term, but it won’t take much off the cap hit, so I am going to leave it as the tags right now and try to sign them long term before camp.

I would sign both as well. I like BJ, but I think we have something with those two. Fieler is sneaky good and has a mean streak.  I always liked this guy from day one.

22 hours ago, kurgan said:

3.     Mike Hilton is also an intergral part of this defense.  RFA tag for second round and we try to get him longer term as well.

I sign him and decide whether to keep him at slot CB because I like having Cam Sutton too. Or do I sign him and move him to hyrbrid safety? Either Way Mike Hilton is still a Steeler in my book.

OK… getting those 4 drained me out and now I am only $2.6 under, so time to go to the vets with extension offers.  Here is where things get hinky and I am going to have to assume and round since I am not sure of exact numbers and the OTC stuff is confusing.  Also, I am limiting myself to two extensions since that is normally what they end up doing.  Also, we have a special case that might take a conversation to make work.  But, first the business part.

The rule of 30% means that I can save less money than before on these contracts.  So, I am going to be conservative.

1.     Cam Heyward—extension/restructure/whatever you want to call it.  Get the cap number down and add on some more years.  I am predicting that I can save $3 million by doing this.  This may be low, but it will come out in the wash.

2.     Stephon Tuitt—Same deal.  I know we do this every year, but we can go to him again and turn some stuff into performance bonuses or something.  Again, I think that we save $3 here.

Hopefully these two can stay healthy for an entire year and play-offs. I am a little concerned with Tuitt's injury. This is the second time I believe. 

With now 8.6 million, we can take care of a couple of other things:

1.     3 million room in season for transactions

2.     2 million rookie draft pool

3.     Nick Vannett signing—2 years X 1 years per.  Middle of the road price tag.  He is a solid #2 and COULD be a #1 if pressed into service.

I love Nick, but not sure if he can bring everything as a #1.  I would hope so, but I know what Vance can do.  Either way< i try to bring in some TE talent and or draft someone who can get downfield.

4.     Tyler Matakevich—3 years X 1 per.  Just above the minimum.  No one can argue that he is the heart and soul of our ST.  He is above average as a ST guy, and can, in an emergency… nevermind.

5.     Kameron Canaday—2 years X 1.6 per.  Just to make it even.  He will get about this for the 2 year deal.

I agree on both. Special teams are very improtant. Not a fan of Danny Smith's, but these are two solid contributors. 

Now, I am set except for 1 big issue:  Al Villaneava.  Dude is a straight hoss that is WOEFULLY underpaid at $5 per.  Now… we could just say F it and you signed the contract, but I want to take care of him AND extend him.  I feel like it would go a long way with him to find a way to pay him even a lower rate for a LT, which is $10 per and get him for 2-3 more years.  But, we can’t extend him without giving him a raise, so we are in a bind.  So, we go another route.

Tough love decision here. I love Big Al the man and teammate, but I have not been enamored with his play.  He has not stuck out in pass protection or run blocking.  I am hoping that Chucks steps up. Not that I expect him to replace Big Al, but show some growth and potential to take over that side in 2021.  Big Al did not have a great year in 2019. I  need to see major improvement before making a financial committment. 

We go to Ben and tell him to “make up” for last year and to make Villy right, we need to move SOME of his money to 2021 to get the $5 mil to extend Villy.  I do not want to hamstring 2021 at all by pushing his money that far, but some can be moved to make Villy whole.  If we can get Villy on board for 3 X $10 mil, I would be a happy man, and so would he.

 

Former Steelers FA signings:

·      Javon Hargrave—Arizona Cardinals 4 X $56 million

·      BJ Finney—Tampa Bay  3 X 15.3 million

·      Artie Burns—Los Angles Chargers 3 X 3 million

·      Sean Davis—Las Vegas Raiders 2 X 7.1 millon

I would try to resign Sean Davis. I don't see him getting a huge deal and I would keep him for depth insurance (Edmunds play).  

 

So, we sign NO outside FA, and do NOT extend Juju or Connor this year.  They need to step up their games.

 

Pre-Draft Position breakdown with Numerical draft priority (1-9):

 

0--QB:  Big Ben, Mason, Duck Hodges, Paxton Lynch, JT Barrett

1--RB: James Connor, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Rosie Nix, Kerrith White, Trey Edmunds, Ralph Webb, Darrin Hall

1--WR: Juju, James Washington, DJ, Holton, Switzer, Cain, Darboah, Custis, Henderson, Anthony Johnson

8--TE:  Gentry, Rader, CSW, Vannett

5--OT: Villy, Chuks, Derwin Gray, Banner

4--OG/C: DDC, Pouncey, Dilauro, Feiler

 

7--DL:  Heyward, Tuitt, McCullers, Buggs, Mondeaux - - For the love of baby Jesus can we get an upgrade on Big Dan McCullers? I think Walton makes is over Mondeaux, although I like Mondeaux. They would have to replace Hargraves.  This DL would get run on regularly.  I suggested signing two bodies: Andrew Billinags and A'Shuan Robinson.  The middle of our defense is very tough to run or pass on. 

4--OLB: Watt, Ola, Tuzar, Dupree

3--ILB:  Vince, Bush, UG3, Spillane, Matakevich

0--CB:  Haden, Nelson, Sutton, Layne, Myres, Hilton

3--S: Edmunds, Fitzpatrick, Matthews, John Battle - - Big weakness here with depth.  Need help and talent. 

 

3--ST:  Berry, Bozwell, Canady - - I am bringing in some punting competition. Not a fan of Berry's play.

 

Draft Needs Tiers—

2-3—TE, DL (tweener)

4—OT, OLB

6-7—ILB, OG

UDFA—QB, RB, WR, CB, P, S, TE, NG

 

Quick Draft Pool Outlook—

Draft is deep in WR/CB, which does not help us, but we should be able to get OL deep, as the IOL is good too.

TE SUCKS!!!  No pure inline blocker TEs that have pass skills, so Gentry is gonna be key here… DL is also short, so we have to get lucky with a DE/DT tweener.

Edge is a sweet spot in 2-4, so I might steal one to replace Chick.

 

Also, a quick note… I am going to do a lot of my own opinions here.  I may vary on what everyone else thinks is important, and also may not take the players for the reasons they would.

 

2.49—Cole Kmet, TE Notre Dame  6’6” 255

So, this to me is a two horse race.  It is either Kmet or Pickney.  I want a TE that is the best combo of receiver/blocker.  Hopkins may be higher ranked as a TE, but he is a big slot WR, not at all an inline TE.  Both Kmet and Pickney give me the idea of what we had with Heath (not saying they are Heath, mind you) in that they are capable of playing the inline TE, and can make catches and a difference over the middle of the field and know how to be a big bodied WR when needed.  For me, Kmet is better at it, so I will take him here.  He gets added to the slurry that is Gentry, Vannett, CSW and Rader and another UDFA.  Hopefully, Kmet becomes the best rounded of the guys and can play as TE #1 one day. He will have to take reps and he will take the job from Vannett by midseason.  Gentry can be the RZ threat, CSW blocker, and Vannett can be old reliable that knows the playbook.  Also, will help us in the middle of the field on big downs and open up the big 3 WR to work off of him.

We would really need CSW to step up again like he did last season.

ONLY other thought here for me is Pickney (I know it is high) or if some DOMINANT WR slides for some reason.  Idea is the same.  Ben needs help.  Not OL either…

 

3.100(-ish)—Bradlee Anae, Edge Utah  6’3” 265

I know DL is a bigger need, BUT… this dude is here and we need a difference edge, and he is MADE for our scheme.  A standup OLB with heavy hands AND pass rush ability.  Willing and able on the front, he moved around some for the Utes, but will come in and take out Ola and Tuzar for reps on day 1.  Makes losing Chick less of deal, and will play ST.  A pick that makes me excited and a guy I want in black and gold.

Looks like a stud on paper. I will try to find some Utah game film to scout him.  

4.114—Ezra Cleveland, OT Boise State  6’6” 310

Late add here, as he JUST declared.  This was the kid from ULL before Cleveland declared, but the reason is the same.  OL help at both RT and if not, CAN move inside and maybe can play guard with his good footwork.  I see him as a rougher but more technical Feiler from a couple of years ago.  Is a bit on the smaller side for OT, but has the ability.  Is athletic and can add to the RT comp in camp and then let the chips fall on the inside.

We need to be looking at some quality safety depth as well. I would put that need above OT.  If we draft an OL, I would prefer a OG or C.

4.117—RaeQuan Williams, DL Michigan State  6’4” 304

Honestly, if we don’t take a DLman in the second round there is nothing right now between the comp pick and here to really make the need jump up.  Williams is NOT a replacement for Gravedigger at all, he is a gapper and pass rusher that can help us with 5 tech reps and MAYBE some penetrating A gap stuff that Wobble did.  He will pair nice with Buggs to make two young guys that can work and develop.  With Alualu leaving, Buggs will have to step up and Williams becomes the guy that is working behind and getting ready.  Tuitt back here will also help allow him to be more of a project guy.

 

6.179—Logan Wilson, MLB  Wyoming  6’2” 225

WOW, what a long gap in picks.  Ok, another guy like UG3, this guy was a safety that turned/grew into a MLB that plays like a cover backer for the Cowboys.  Not a solid MLB prospect yet, but a willing and violent tackler that will play ST on day one and hopefully take over the Vince role in the future.

 

7.210—Lynn Bowden Jr, WR Kentucky  6’1” 199

Gonna get killed on pre-draft and film due to him having to play QB for the Cats this past year.  Dude is a real player, and needs to work on his WR skills as he is able to come in and affect games with gimmick roles and throws; ala Randle-El.  Can be a long term WR in the mold that the Steelers like; small, quick, explosive.  A weapon that can be used in many ways as he works to perfect his WR craft.

 

UDFA—

QB—Cole McDonald, Hawaii  6’4” 220  (HUGE big armed prospect that is wild and crazy.  Will be fun to bring into camp and have him throw it around)

 

RB—Kennedy McKoy, WVU  6’1” 204  (Local kid that carried the team the last few years.  Can be used for a camp body and to challenge/mimic the abilities of Samuels)

 

OL—Steven Gonzalez, Penn State  6’4” 331  (Our requiste big OG guy that will come in and battle.  Another ‘local’ kid that has at times been dominant in the Big 10)

 

CB—Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern 5’11” 190  (Love watching these kids play, and he is a small dog, big dog dude who plays bigger and talks even more.)

 

S—Nigel Warrior, Tennessee  6’1” 220  (Biggest UDFA this year for us, best S available.  Real shot to make the roster as a well coached free safety type with great bloodlines.)

 

P—Billy Cate, ODU  6’4” 193  (Huge big legged punter)

 

TE—Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State  6’3” 245  (Move TE/H Back role.  Soft hands as well)

 

NG—John Penisini, Utah  6’2” 333 (Camp comp for Big Dan)

 

OT—Alex Taylor, South Carolina State 6’9” 305 (Small school mountain to work for long term)

 

 

 

 

OK, so carried 62 into the draft, and now adding these guys gets me to 77.  Add in 13 for the 90 man roster, but you get the idea.

 

FINAL 53 for 2020 season:

 

QB:  Big Ben, Mason Rudolph, Paxton Lynch

RB:  James Connor, Jalen Samuels, Benny Snell, Rosie Nix, Kerrith White

WR: Juju, James Washington, Dionte Johnson, Deon Cain, Ryan Switzer, Lynn Bowdon Jr.

TE:  Vannett, Kmet, Gentry, CSW

OT:  Villy, Okorafor, Banner, Cleveland

IOL:  Feiler, Pouncey, DDC, Gray

O=25

 

DL:  Heyward, Tuitt, McCullers, Buggs, Williams

OLB:  Watt, Dupree, Ola, Tuzar, Anae

ILB:  Bush, Vince, UG3, Matakevich, Spillane

CB:  Haden, Nelson, Sutton, Hilton, Layne, Myers

S: Fitzpatrick, Edmunds, Warrior

D=25

 

K: Boz, Berry, Canady

ST=3

 

(IA—Hodges, White, Bowdon, Gentry/CSW, Cleveland/Gray, Williams, Spillane, Myers/Warrior)

 

PS:  Logan Wilson (MLB), Cole McDonald (QB), Trey Edmunds (RB), Anthony Johnson (WR), Kevin Rader (TE), Gonzalez (OG), John Dilario (OG), Alex Taylor (OT), Kindle Viador (CB), Reggie Floyd (S—from another PS).

 

Overview:

 

Offense:

·      QB is led by the man, Ben.  He is backed up by Rudolph, who has a great offseason and starts to calm down and see the game.  Lynch beats out Duck as the salty veteran that can play and help out if Ben goes down again.  He will have a whole offseason, and is talented, and will be chagrined by his last true shot.

·      RB will be a four headed monster.  Connor is the A back, and Snell moves into the role of a true backup.  Samuels will keep his role as a 3rd down option, and takes on more special teams.  White comes back as the speed option/returner that can give a kick to pants when needed.

·      TE… I am keeping 4.  I know that is not the norm, but each will have a different role.  Vannett and Kmet are the true TEs of the bunch, and Vannett will function as the TE guy until Kmet takes over.  Gentry and CSW become role players with a point.  CSW will be the power blocker/pop pass guy and Gentry is the red zone weapon/seam buster, depending on matchups and teams.

·      WR: the added TE and RB come out here, as I am only keeping 6 WR.  Obviously, JJSS, JW and DJ are the true WR locks as Cain becomes the long burner/gunner guy on ST.  Switzer comes back as Ben’s blanket, working underneath and getting easy yards with his boy.  Bowdon is kept as a developmental WR and also gimmick guy as the gameplan calls for it.

·      OL:  Another less body than the 2019 roster with the added TE and RB.  4 tackles and 4 IOL.  Starters with Villy and Banner/Chuks and swing with the other.  Feiler can play in a pinch.  Cleveland is the developmental guy and can play inside.  DDC, Pouncey and Feiler play the inside slots, with Gray serving as the backup and Cleveland in a pinch.  Feiler is the backup C in this scenario, although Gray might be flexible.

·      DL:  Tuitt, Heyward come back to man the edges in base, and the inside gaps in nickel.  Dan takes over as the nose right now, but being pushed by a cross training Buggs and Williams.

·      OLB:  Watt and Dupree are the guys, and are unchallenged.  Battle emerges for the relief role, and will go to Tuzar at the beginning, and Anae longer term.  All are active since they will be special teams deamons.

·      ILB:  Best core IMO.  Bush is the man, and will be flanked by Vince in base, and the emerging UG3 on passing downs as a better LJ Fort.  Matakevich and Spillane make the team in special teams roles, with only Spillane being able to be playable.

·      CB:  Deepest spot on the roster.  Haden, Nelson and Hilton man the 3 starting slots (yes nickel) and Sutton is the man who backs up everything.  Layne is making strides as both a special teamer and as a corner.  Myers was kept for a reason and he is the guy that will step up with a year on the practice squad and will allow the backend to me even more flexible.

·      S: Minkah and Edmunds are the starters and players.  Warrior makes this squad as a 3rd safety but more in the role of a new Dangerfield that is a special teams demon and can play in a pinch.  In this idea, the actual backup safety is going to be Hilton/Sutton or even Myers if one of the starters goes down.

·      ST:  Boz is a top 5 kicker again.  Canady is the man on long snappers.  As much comp as is brought in to camp, Berry still stays as the man.

·      PS: Wilson is the gem here, looking to be a long term Matakevich role.  McDonald will play QB if Duck moves on and will provide a big arm camp dude that can throw it like a lot of dudes in the league.  Edmunds is back on the taxi squad if eligible, or another back.  Johnson is a dynamic player that can be a big body project.  Gonzales, Dilario and Taylor are developmental OL that will make the numbers even and allow the older guys some rest days.  Rader comes back as the local long term TE guy.  Defensively, there is more younger guys on the roster, so Viador as a CB and Floyd as S fill in the lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected lineups:

 

Offense:

Offensive Line:

o   LT: Alejando Villianeava

o   LG: DDC

o   C: Pouncey

o   RG: Matt Feiler (Derwin Gray/Cleveland)

o   RT Chuks Okorafor  (Zach Banner)

Skill (11 Personnel):

o   RB=James Connor (Samuels/Snell)

o   X=JJSS (Cain)

o   Z=James Washington

o   Slot=Dionte Johnson (Switzer)

o   TE=Nick Vannett (Cole Kmet)

 

 

Defense:

o   Base

o   DL: Heyward, Tuitt, Dan/Buggs

o   OLB:  Watt, Dupree (Tuzar)

o   ILB: Bush, Vince (UG3)

o   CB:  Haden, Nelson (Hilton)

o   S:  Minkah, Edmunds (Hilton/Sutton)

o   Nickel

o   DL:  Watt, Heyward, Tuitt, Dupree

o   LB:  Bush, UG3/Sutton

o   CB:  Haden, Nelson, Hilton

o   S: Minkah, Edmunds (Sutton)

 

Special Teams:

o   4 phase (KO, KOR, P, PR)

o   Samuels, Nix, Kmet/CSW, Ola, Tuzar, Anae, Matakevich, Spillane, Warrior

o   Specific Roles

o   Gunners: Cain, Layne (Myers)

o   Returners: White, Bowdon

 

 

 

I think this sets us up pretty well. Not much change from last year, lost Finney and GraveDigger, but might get comps in 2021.  Dupree gets a year to prove his worth, and Ben gets his weapons back and a couple of new toys, maybe.  Otherwise, I was so cap tied, I could not make a big splash like I wanted.

I realize that I am one IOL injury and one S injury away from disaster, but that is just where I am right now.

 

Thoughts???

I would prefer to keep Rosie Nix over Switzer.  Cain and the other young guys hava higher ceiling.  Keeping Nix may mean getting rid of Samuels. Need beef in the trenches on both sides of the ball. 

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Thanks for the write up @Steeler Hitman

 

I have Rosie on there... I am keeping 4 backs with Rosie, for 5.  One will be inactive on gameday.

I understand the issues with Safety, and I have been in the camp of trying to keep Sean Davis.  I would love him as a backup/slot guy BUT, I think it is going to be his decision to leave.  I mean, we have been jerking him around for years on position and PT, and I think the Minkah trade he can take as a slap in the face.  I would love to have him back.

I cannot see us having enough money to sign any FA Safety unless we start chopping more people.

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3 hours ago, cjfollett said:

I like what Bud did in 2019, but he has been an under-performer most of his career. Can we count on him going forward?

this is why often it was said that it was  "a contract year". Nobody knows the answer, and the risk as a result will keep the price down. I don't think he gets a deal quite like the smiths. Of course, colbert has a tendency to overpay his draft picks, if he is still here as the GM. 

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001096923/article/steelers-optimistic-gm-kevin-colbert-will-be-back

so his contract expires after the draft, which I find amusing because he could drat and then leave the team with what he drafted. 

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I have a hard time seeing Switzer being on the roster next year. What value does he bring? Below average kick returner and averaged 3 YPC last year. I’m personally surprised he was still on the roster at the end of this season. Think our receivers will be JuJu, DJ, JW, Cain, and a new guy (draft pick/free agent)

Even with our cap situation I have a hard time seeing us bring in zero outside free agents. 
 

With Hargrave gone I doubt we cut Alualu. He had a great season and especially with Heyward/Tuitt’s injury history he’s invaluable depth and creates another need that can’t be filled with a much cheaper option.
 

I personally think we give Dupree a contract instead of tagging him. The Steelers have invested so much time into Dupree and stuck by him while he was average/below average. They will chalk up his delayed breakout to coaching and being healthy. Tagging him will be last resort.

 In regards to Foster, does anyone think we can flip him to an OL needy team for a late draft pick like we did with Gilbert last year? He may be getting older but would be a huge upgrade to a lot of teams and provide some veteran leadership.
 

Also, I prefer Thad Moss to Kmet.

Great work on this though, appreciate you putting the time in and it helped me get a better understanding of where we stand/what our options are heading into the off-season. 

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