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Updated: 24 min 36 sec ago

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will give away two new contracts before the season

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at Saint Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers will give away two new contracts before the regular season

Why it will happen: The Steelers are in a good spot with their 2022 salary cap, but they could be in a spot where they look to lock up some players who have earned new contracts. Two player who fit this description would be placekicker Chris Boswell and wide receiver Diontae Johnson. While Johnson’s next contract, and if it happens in Pittsburgh or not, is a hotly debated topic throughout the Steelers’ fan base. There isn’t anyone really complaining if Boswell gets a new contract, but the scenario is the team will deliver two new deals before the regular season begins.

Omar Khan said the Steelers won’t negotiate contracts during the regular season, so there is a hard stop on if/when a deal gets done. While fans might not want to give Johnson a new deal, he certainly could get one to try and get him at a bargain, considering the sky-rocketing price tags on wide receivers. Throw in Boswell’s new deal and you have yourself two new deals done before the season begins.

Why it won’t happen: The Steelers value both Johnson and Boswell, but how much they value them, individually, is certainly something which is less certain. Diontae Johnson has been great, but there are a lot of questions still surrounding his game and future with the team. This isn’t to suggest the Steelers don’t give out a new contract, but the approach to Johnson could be more of a wait-and-see variety. If Johnson plays well in 2022, the Steelers could offer their most competitive offer, and if it doesn’t fit what Johnson has in mind the team moves on. Johnson leaving would help the team in the compensatory pick formula, and young receivers like George Pickens and Calvin Austin III could step into a larger role in Year 2.

Prediction: I foresee the Steelers giving out one new contract, but not two. The thought of singing Johnson at a discount is certainly appealing, but is far from realistic, in my opinion. I think the Steelers lock up their Pro Bowl kicker for the long term, and while this won’t help them much in terms of their cap situation, will help the special teams for the long haul. As I wrote in the “why it won’t happen” section, the Steelers should be okay with waiting to see how Johnson does in 2022 before offering him a new contract. I see one contract, not two.

Check out yesterday’s prediction in the link below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Who is the most athletic player in Steelers history?

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

In my opinion, Steelers legendary cornerback Mel Blount is the greatest pure athlete in team history. Number two on that list is another legendary corner.

Welcome to the dog days of the summer offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Consider this as the perfect time for cookouts and family vacations, because it is the calm before the six month storm that is the NFL season, even longer for the playoff participants.

Noteworthy news is in high demand, but in short supply, during this portion of the offseason. Some Steelers faithful checkout for a few weeks, recharging their batteries to assure maximum voltage for the season.

We all consider no news to be good news, for the most part, because the last thing we want to hear about are injuries or legal issues during this short break. Hopefully the only stories are about players’ vacation getaways with their family and friends.

I usually try to focus on thought-provoking articles that tend to be a little out of left field for this month of nothingness. Potential trades and/or free agent signings are always a fun topic for discussion, as are Steelers legacy articles.

This is a Steelers legacy article, about Steelers legendary cornerback Mel Blount, one of the greatest pure athletes the league has ever seen.

The inspiration for this article came from a recent Top 10 list posted on Twitter. The focus of the list was the Top 10 pure athletes in sports history. All sports were taken into consideration. Obvious names like Carl Lewis, Michael Jordan, and Usain Bolt made the list. Number one on this particular list was Bo Jackson, which I personally agreed with. Bo Jackson had a tragically short football career, but he was the best pure athlete I ever saw when healthy.

That got me thinking, which is always a dangerous proposition, who is the greatest pure athlete in Pittsburgh Steelers history?

Two names immediately came to mind, and they actually played the same position. Mel Blount and Rod Woodson are not only legendary Hall of Fame cornerbacks for the Steelers, but they are the two best athletes in Steelers history.

First, I should admit I consider Blount and Woodson to be the two best corners in NFL history, so I am biased. However, that's not a problem, because this is a Steelers Top 10 list, and no rational individual would ever question their elite level athleticism.

Next, how did I come to the final conclusion that Blount was No. 1 on my list? In an incredibly close decision, Blount eked out the victory.

Blount was an Adonis. He was tall, fast, and powerful. He was always the alpha in every matchup. He ran like a gazelle, and hit like a bull. He personified intimidation at the cornerback position.

At a legit 6'3" and 215 lbs., Blount had the length and girth of a linebacker. Reportedly, he was basically the same size as Steelers enforcer Jack Lambert by the end of each season, as Lambert's weight consistently dropped during the season. Blount never varied, due to the fact he is a genetic freak.

Blount had the superior speed of a elite corner. Since Blount played prior to the whole NFL Combine craze that we all have come to know and love, official numbers are simply not available, although all reports suggest at least a 4.4 forty time, with many claiming a sub-4.4 time would be spot on. Put it this way, Blount appeared to be as fast as he wanted to be, or at least needed to be.

Blount was far from a kind and gentle cornerback, in the mold of a “Neon” Deion Sanders. Blount looked at opposing receivers like a frustrated mother looks at unruly toddlers, basically saying "Don't you make me chase you!" He put the bump into the bump and run coverage, but he could run step for step with even the fastest receivers. If you can't tell by now, I believe any corner being considered in any best-ever discussion should be a complete player, not just elite in one aspect of playing the position.

Blount was indeed an explosive athlete, even nearing retirement. I read a story about high hurdle track star and eventual 49errs wide receiver Renaldo Nehemiah doing a private workout for multiple NFL teams in the early 80's, with some Steelers scouts in attendance. Nehemiah was a world class athlete, and was putting on a show. Blount happened to pass by at some point, and demonstrated his vertical for those present that day. He checked in at 40"+, in dress shoes no less.

I believe I read the story in Sports Illustrated back in the day, but I am not certain. I wholeheartedly believe that report, because of what an unbelievable physical specimen Blount remains to this very day. The man is 74 years young, and he still looks like he could go a down or two.

Finally, Blount had the punishing hitting ability of a safety, which makes perfect sense, because he played both cornerback and safety in college at Southern University at a All-American level. Don't believe me, look it up.

My best present day comparison for Mel Blount happens to be a wide receiver. Seattle Seahawks D.K. Metcalf. For those too young to remember Blount, Metcalf's unbelievable physique and athleticism is a legitimate comparison.

So there you have it. The reasoning behind why I believe Mel Blount is the most athletic player in Pittsburgh Steelers history, just edging out Rod Woodson.

Who do you think was the best athlete between the two? Maybe you think it's someone else who I may have overlooked. Share your opinion by voting in the attached poll, and by commenting in the available thread.

It promises to be an intriguing discussion.

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after reports of Larry Ogunjobi’s contract

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The exact details still have some questions to be answered, but it appears as if the cap hit for 2022 is known.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster heading into the 2022 NFL season. While there still could be some significant swapping of players, there is always the chance something else changes things whether large or small. As reports come in of these deals well before they are official, even after pen is put to paper it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.

On Tuesday, there appeared to be some movement with the Steelers salary cap according to the NFLPA report. While I do not believe the total the NFLPA reports is correct, I do look for how much the report changes. From Monday to Tuesday, the Steelers salary cap space dropped $8,767,801 on their site. With one of those contracts assumed to be from Kenny Pickett, once subtracting off his salary cap hit (after displacement) of $1,662,801, the amount remaining was exactly $7.105 million. This amount just so happens to be the amount of change from a salary of $8 million coming on the books after the $895k displacement was subtracted. For this reason, it appears that Larry Ogunjobi’s contract would count for the full $8 million against the salary cap.

Later on Tuesday, overthecap.com also had a Ogunjobi with an $8 million salary cap hit for 2022. Their breakdown of Ogunjobi‘s contract has him with a $1.535 million base salary and a $6.465 million prorated bonus.

The question remains exactly how this bonus is specified. If it is strictly a signing bonus, then reports of Ogunjobi having incentives in his contract appear to be incorrect. If this is some other kind of bonus, it appears for now it is of the “likely to be earned” category and counts on the 2022 salary cap.

At this time, based on the reports from two different sources, I am moving forward assuming that Ogunjobi‘s contract does count $8 million towards the 2022 salary cap. If more details emerge and the prorated bonus ends up to include incentives that are not likely to be earned, I will adjust the available salary cap space at that time.

To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2022. Players who were released, were given a tender, or had their exact salary reported are indicated below and the precise numbers are known.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, reported salaries displaced a $825k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $28.8 million

Dwayne Haskins: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$1.715 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $1.5175 million; After displacement: -$0.6925 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $1.535 million; After displacement: -$0.71 million
Mitch Trubisky: Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: Reported $2.556666 million; After displacement+: -$1.661666 million
Chuks Okorafor: Reported $4.333333 million; After displacement: -$3.508333 million
Robert Spillane: Tendered $2.433 million salary; After displacement: -$1.608 million
Marcus Allen: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
James Daniels: Reported $4.166666 million; After displacement: -$3.341666 million
Levi Wallace: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement*: -$1.672317 million
Montravius Adams: Reported $1.7675 million; After displacement+: -$0.8725 million
Zach Banner: Saved $5 million salary; After displacement: +$4.175 million
Myles Jack: Reported $4.75 million; After displacement*: -$3.90139 million
Joe Schobert: Saved $7.834 million salary; After displacement+: +$6.939 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement+: -$1.6225 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Genard Avery: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267
Trenton Scott: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
DeMarvin Leal: Reported $0.943072 million; After displacement+: -$0.048072
Bryce Watts: Released with $10k in dead money: -$0.01
Tuzar Skipper: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Stephon Tuitt: Saved $9.05 million salary; After displacement+: +$8.155 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Reported $8.124235 million; Replaced $10.612 million: +$2.487765 million
Kenny Pickett: Reported $2.557801 million; After displacement+: -$1.662801
Larry Ogunjobi: Reported $8 million; After displacement+: -$7.105 million

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $14.3 million

*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)

+A $895k contract was displaced

++Displaced by each other, giving no change to the cap

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites (at the original time of publishing, before any potential updates)?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $14,338,932 under the salary cap. OTC has everything on their books at this time, and we have the exact same dollar amount.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $20,956,076 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts except Ogunjobi and also has Miles Boykin’s prorated bonus incorrectly counting for the Steelers instead of it sticking with the Ravens. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time either. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals.

I have recently updated how much I believe the Steelers will need to still have when the regular season rolls around, which is much as an additional $13 million. Come September, the Steelers need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year. But there is one more expense that will likely add to the $5 million the Steelers hoped to take into the season (in years past). If the Steelers elevate players from the practice squad, they must receive a full game check. Taking this into account, along with significant increases in league-minimum salaries of players who could be added to the roster if another player is injured, the Steelers will likely want to carry an additional $2 million to $3 million, increasing what I had estimated before to be about $10.8 million up to approximately $13 million. Also remember, this needed amount could go down depending on the salaries of the players who do not make the roster, assuming there is not too much dead money.

Based on this number, the Steelers only have about $1.3 million above what they need for the 2022. If the Steelers feel they need more money against the 2022 salary cap, a restructure of T.J. Watt’s contract could give more than $17 million if the Steelers chose to do so. Also, the Steelers could do a restructure for a lower amount if they choose.

Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.

Are you ready for the Le’Veon Bell boxing career?

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back is preparing for a career in the boxing ring.

Le’Veon Bell, the former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets running back, has dabbled in plenty of occupations outside of football. Bell had, and still has, a music career, but is beginning a new career in the sport of boxing.

Yes, boxing.

Bell, who was introduced to boxing as a form of training for football, began to take the sport more and more seriously. Now to the point where Bell is preparing for his first real boxing match of his new career.

After being very critical on social media of these celebrity boxing matches in the past year, Bell is about to enter the squared circle with another former NFL superstar. According to TMZ Sports, the former Steelers, Chiefs, Jets, Buccaneers and Ravens running back will be going up against Adrian Peterson.

A boxing showdown between two NFL superstars is in the works -- Adrian Peterson is currently in the process of becoming Le'Veon Bell's opponent at https://t.co/qHgwpU4d1K Arena next month, TMZ Sports has learned. https://t.co/AbPLmM62S5

— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) June 27, 2022

While nothing official has been announced yet, here is what TMZ had to say about what they’ve learned about Bell’s first opponent:

30-year-old Bell is slated to take his first boxing match as part of YouTube superstar Austin McBroom’s Social Gloves event in Los Angeles ... but his opponent had het to be announced.

Now, we’re told the 37-year-old former NFL MVP is in talks to take the ring against Bell on July 30 ... in what would be a massive fight between two accomplished running backs.

The question for Steelers fans isn’t will he win, but will you even watch? If so, will you hope Peterson lands some shots on the player who reportedly walked away from a lucrative contract with the Steelers only to have the decision be the beginning of the end of his football career.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the start of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each broadcasted episode.

The Steelers Fix: Steelers Fantasy Football Floors and Ceilings

As we start thinking about our fantasy teams for the 2022 campaign, it’s good to consider all things when drafting your players. This week, Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar look at the floors and ceilings of certain players to consider for your 2022 roster.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Fantasy Players Floors and Ceilings
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Scho Bro Show: Where could the Steelers have a surprise starter in 2022?

The Steelers have a good idea who will be starting at most positions. But could somebody emerge from the abyss and be a surprise starter and at what position could that possibly occur? This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the black-and-gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Surprise Starters?

Dave and Rich walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Let’s Ride, Wednesday: 5 players who could shock Steelers fans in 2022

There are things that you guess and things that you know. But every once in a while you get a surprised beyond belief. Who are five players that could shock Steeler Nation in 2022? This is is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman. Join Jeff for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • 5 players who could shock Steelers fans in 2022
  • The Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Donovan Jeter & Buddy Johnson

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 18 of Going For Two, featuring Donovan Jeter and Buddy Johnson

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Donovan Jeter Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Nose tackle
Age: 23
Year: 1
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 325
Drafted: UDFA, 2022
College: Michigan
Roster Outlook: Long shot
Analysis:

The Steelers defensive line room is very crowded. With the return of Tyson Alualu and the signing of Larry Ogunjobi, the Steelers have a lot of players who have logged snaps f in the past despite the retirement a Stephon Tuitt. With players who saw the field for the Steelers in 2021 likely not making the cut, even if the Steelers keep more players than expected, the opportunity for young players to find their way into the league by landing a spot on the Steelers 53-man roster as a defense of lineman is a very difficult path. Enter Donovan Jeter. Growing up in western Pennsylvania, Jeter signed with the Steelers following the 2022 NFL draft. With a long road ahead and a very difficult path to making the team, if Jeter can somehow get his name into the mix with the players the Steelers already have on the defensive line, it would be a huge accomplishment.

Buddy Johnson Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Position: Inside Linebacker
Age: 23
Year: 2
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 240
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 140, 2021
College: Texas A&M
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

It was an interesting and likely disappointing season for 2021 fourth-round draft pick Buddy Johnson. Getting a helmet his first two weeks due to injuries to Robert Spillane and Devin Bush, Johnson only logged 18 special team snaps before having a long stretch until he saw the field again. Appearing for Steelers in Week 13 and Week 14, Johnson had a total of six defensive snaps on the season with 59 on special teams in four total games. Dealing with a foot injury late in the season, the Steelers kept Johnson on the active roster up until their Week 18 contest when they placed him on the Reserve/Injured List. Due to not really seeing what Johnson brings, it will be a very interesting preseason in 2022. After being considered a roster lock as a fourth-round draft pick last year, Johnson finds himself more on the bubble as the Steelers invested another draft pick at the position in 2022 in Mark Robinson. With so many players fighting for a few roster spots, Johnson will first have to play well enough to make the Steelers roster. Whether or not Johnson can get into the mix when it comes to playing time at inside linebacker is anybody’s guess as there was so little of a sample size to draw conclusions from his rookie season.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

ESPN tabs Connor Heyward as the Steelers standout during minicamp

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have been out of minicamp for a few weeks, but ESPN picked a standout during the three days of workouts.

Every time an NFL team takes the field, regardless of the setting, media are watching for players who stand out in some way. At ESPN, they recently posted an article stating a surprise standout for all 32 NFL teams.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the player who was recognized might not be one you would have picked out of the current 90-man offseason roster. In fact, it was one of the seven rookies from the 2022 NFL Draft class. And it wasn’t Kenny Pickett.

Brooke Pryor, who was the beat writer who provided the name for the article, actually thought out of the box and chose the surprises standout to be tight end/fullback Connor Heyward as the Steelers’ standout.

See what her explanation was for choosing Connor Heyward:

Pittsburgh Steelers

TE Connor Heyward

It’s hard to be truly under the radar as Cam Heyward’s younger brother, but the rookie Heyward impressed in offseason workouts and showed a chemistry with first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett in a nice snag during a two-minute drill in minicamp. Heyward, selected in the sixth round, figures to be in a hybrid tight end/fullback role in an offense that values versatility in its skill players. Because he has been working mostly with tight ends and receivers, Heyward probably won’t be competing for the fullback roster spot with Derek Watt, making it likely both find roles on the 2022 team.

Connor Heyward certainly did make waves with the one-handed catch during the two-minute drill when the Steelers wrapped up their mandatory minicamp a few weeks ago. However, he was also chastised for the catch. No, not because of the catch he made, but because he got up and celebrated the snag at a time during practice when the focus should have been on getting the ball back to the line of scrimmage to execute another play. This earned Connor Heyward a t-shirt with a donkey on it, and you can guess why there was a donkey on it.

Cam Heyward’s little brother is a tough player to evaluate for the 2022 Steelers. No one really knows where he fits within Matt Canada’s offense, but his versatility is attractive to the organization, both on offense and on special teams. Heyward has experience in college playing running back, fullback, tight end, H-back and even returning kickoffs. Not that he would be doing all that in the NFL, but the age-old saying of ‘the more you can do’ certainly applies to the younger Heyward brother.

Will he be a lock to make the 53-man roster? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare to report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA for training camp on July 26th.

The case of the Steelers green dot likely won’t be settled anytime soon

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 11:30am
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense needs a communicator, and no one knows who it will be in 2022.

For those who might not pay close attention to the details of the NFL, there are green dots on the back of certain players’ helmets. These dots signify they have a communication device inside them for coaches to communicate with the on-field player.

On offense, the green dot is always given to the quarterback. The offensive coordinator, or head coach, will relay the play to the quarterback who then tells the team in the huddle. The communication device shuts off before the play begins. Defensively, because of substitutions, there are three players who can have the dot on their helmet.

Why does this matter for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers? Because no one knows who will wear the dot on defense this upcoming season. Some are thinking Devin Bush, now fully healthy off his ACL tear in 2020, will be the guy, while others believe recent free agent additions Myles Jack will wear the dot.

If Jack is the player you had in mind to wear the dot, his history of donning the communication device in Jacksonville isn’t great. This from Jaguars beat writer Jamal St. Cyr who went on 105.9 The X with Tim Benz.

“The Jaguars defensive coordinators kept wanting to put this leadership role (on him). Make him the Mike (middle) linebacker. Give him the green dot (communication helmet). They even did it last year. And Myles Jack does not play well when he has to think, and you put him in charge of other players,” St. Cyr said.

Considering it was a rather vague answer, Benz followed up looking for more specifics.

“He just doesn’t play well with that green dot,” St. Cyr continued. “When he is in charge of lining up other guys, making that play call, his play tanks. As soon as you take that green dot away from him and say go out and do your responsibility, it’s like a light comes on.”

Not a glowing endorsement for Jack to be the player wearing the green dot this upcoming season, his first in Pittsburgh. For the Devin Bush detractors out there, if both Bush and Jack aren’t suitable to wear the dot, it puts the defense in quite the bind.

During the team’s Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Jack was asked if the Steelers were going to have him wear the dot in 2022.

“That hasn’t been decided yet,” Jack said. “Right now, we both have the green dot. So we are both just communicating on the field. But if I was called to do it, I could do it.”

Jack continued, and explained what went wrong in Jacksonville, and why he had the dot taken away from his last season.

“In the preseason, [Joe] Schobert had it. Then we traded Schobert (to the Steelers),” Jack explained. “And they just kinda threw it on me. But I was the Will. It created communication issues because the Mike is sitting there waiting for me to give him the call and make the closed call. So eventually they switched it over (to Wilson).

“They felt like me playing Will (weak-side linebacker), they felt like the Mike should have the green dot. That was the miscommunication (in Jacksonville). But if (the Steelers coaches) needed me to do it, I could do it 100%.”

Being able to do it, and wanting to do it are two completely different things. Jack says he can, but also admitted he would much rather just play.

“It’s obviously cool just hearing the call and just playing,” Jack said. “But if I have the responsibility of getting people lined up, that’s not hard to do. It’s one more thing, but I don’t think it will slow me down by any means. If they name me the Mike and give me the green dot, I can do it.”

This continues to be a hot button topic with Steelers fans which won’t be decided until the team reports to training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College. It is just one of many questions surrounding the inside linebackers on the roster, and how the Teryl Austin led defense utilizes their inside linebackers could ultimately make this decision a lot easier than many are making it out to be.

Nonetheless, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and the 2022 regular season.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: Kenny Pickett will still be 3rd on the depth chart in Week 1

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: Quarterback Kenny Pickett will still be 3rd on the depth chart in Week 1

Why it will happen: It’s where he is starting going into training camp. Although he will have every opportunity to win the starting job, Kenny Pickett will only move up the depth chart if the Steelers choose to do it before Week 1 based on his play, or if one of the other players above him is not available due to injury, trade, or release.

First let’s look at the potential change in personnel. Since it seems futile to predict injuries, it comes down to the other two factors. Releasing one of the two quarterbacks, although possible, would be surprising. As for a trade, I’d say it’s fair to say there’s a 50–50 chance, but I would also say that it’s also about a 50–50 chance whether or not that trade happens prior to Week 1 instead of during the season once another team is dealing with injury. Based on that, the odds are greater that the position group will remain the same for Week 1 than one of the players ahead of Pickett being traded or released.

Now looking at Pickett’s play and his ability to move up the depth chart, let’s look at the chances of him landing at either the number one or number two spot. The last quarterback drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers to start Week 1 of his rookie season was Terry Bradshaw in 1970. But he was the number one overall pick and took over a 1–13 team. So based on Steelers history, the odds of Pickett moving up to start right away as a rookie are stacked against him.

The bigger question comes in who the Steelers will want to have active on game day as their number two option. Will the Steelers want to have the rookie in a situation where he would have to come off the bench in an emergency during his very first game? With the two other options currently ahead of Pickett on the depth chart both having NFL starts and games where they came off the bench, if they could be the safer option, at least for Week 1, based on their experience. So even if Pickett is deemed to be more capable than the Steeler second option, it might not be a scenario that the Steelers want to put their rookie quarterback into if they can avoid it.

Why it won’t happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t drafted a quarterback in the first round in 18 years. With that quarterback retiring this last season, the next man is up for the future needs to be ready to go. If Kenny Pickett proves that he’s worthy and capable of starting, get him out there Week 1 so he can get as much experience as possible. He was deemed “the most pro-ready quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft,” he’s already 24-years old, and if the Steelers weren’t looking to have him ready right away then why bother to draft him?

Even if Kenny Pickett isn’t the starter right away, he’s got to at least be the second best quarterback on the team. If he’s not ready to be the man, he can learn a lot by being the number two guy. And if the Steelers can pull it off, trading Mason Rudolph and getting something out of him is in their best interest.

Prediction: This explanation might take some more time, but I am going to agree with the scenario. One of the biggest reasons is so many of the factors fall in a way to have Kenny Pickett inactive the first week of the season based on this question…

I’m definitely not saying this is what I want. But it just sounds like a Steelers move. If Charlie Batch had not been hurt in 2004, would Ben Roethlisberger have been active for Week 1 of his rookie season? Probably not.

It’s not unheard of for a first-round quarterback to not be active for a team to start the year. Jordan Love spent his entire rookie season inactive for the Green Bay Packers as they opted to have a more experienced player ready to step in during a game if needed.

For fans who are so quick to ship Mason Rudolph out of town, are you sure that is something the Steelers are looking to do, not just their fans? If they do make a trade prior to Week 1, then Kenny Pickett should definitely get a helmet. But if they haven’t, and Mitch Trubisky is named the starter, are the Steelers going to feel like Kenny Pickett had enough practice time to step in and run the offense in his very first game ahead of someone who’s been with the team the last four seasons?

As for the notion of Pickett being “the most pro-ready quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft,” so what? There wasn’t even another quarterback taken until the third round. Was he more pro-ready than the players in the 2021 draft? Because only time will tell if comparing Pickett to the rest of the 2022 quarterback class is the standard in which he should ultimately be measured.

I know this is an unpopular opinion. But, ultimately, it’s not something that’s surprising when you look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers operate. The last thing they want to do is put themselves in a situation that could inhibit the growth of Kenny Pickett if they don’t have to. After all, it’s only the first week of the season and a lot can happen from September to January.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

2022 is shaping up as the Steelers most fascinating season in years

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is a ton of excitement and anxiety surrounding the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers, and rightfully so.

The title of this article suggests the Steelers upcoming season will be their most fascinating in years. The key term there is “fascinating,” and it’s one I did not arrive at lightly. I went back and forth on which adjective to apply for a good ten minutes before making a decision. I used, at various times, words like “compelling,” “exciting,” and “interesting,” even Googling synonyms that properly conveyed my intention.

Why fascinating, then? While those other adjectives also apply — I am indeed compelled, excited and interested in the prospects of the 2022 Steelers — fascinating seemed most appropriate because of its insinuation that the subject is somehow unique or unusual.

Years ago, for example, I met former NBA player Shawn Bradley at a restaurant. Bradley is 7’6, which, as tall as that may seem on paper, is astonishing in person. I meant no disrespect to Mr. Bradley, nor did I mean to make him feel like some sort of carnival attraction by staring at him the way I did. It was fascinating, however, to behold an individual of that size up close. You just don’t encounter people that large on the day-to-day. When you do, it holds your attention. I thought about him for days afterwards, wondering how he navigated seemingly simple tasks, like driving a car or buying clothes, realizing that for Shawn Bradley, few things were simple.

This Steelers team has certainly held my attention. They are not unusual in the same way as meeting someone who is 7’6. But they are different, more so than any Steelers team in recent memory. The obvious difference is they are replacing their quarterback for the first time in 18 years. In the time that Ben Roethlisberger was Pittsburgh’s starter, I got divorced, was re-married, celebrated the birth of two children, bought four different houses, became an offensive coordinator and then a head coach. Each of those are life changing events, and they all occurred during Big Ben’s tenure with the Steelers. I’m certain I am not alone in this regard. Many people reading this saw their lives ebb and flow while #7 took snaps. He was a constant in an inconstant world.

Roethlisberger’s departure steeped Pittsburgh’s off-season in intrigue. Intrigue, at its best, is a tantalizing prelude to fascination. It suggests the prospect of something worthy of our attention. The Steelers have given us that these past few months, and more. The baseline was the fact we knew they would seek a replacement for Roethlisberger. But who? That speculation was great fun, and though no answer was available in the early days of the debate, it carried Steelers’ fans through much of the cold winter.

In late February, however, a story of a different nature captured headlines. The team announced it had signed former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores as a defensive assistant. It was a bold and brilliant move by the organization. They brought in one of the best defensive minds in the game at a time when many thought the lawsuit Flores had filed against the NFL would make him a coaching pariah. It was another example of how the Steelers have often operated according to their own code of values rather than caving to the group-think that often dominates professional sports at the administrative level.

The Flores signing created its own flurry of speculation on how the defense would change and the impact he would make. It was only February, yet there was already so much to anticipate.

In March, the organization provided a potential answer to the quarterback question when it snapped up Mitchell Trubisky on the first day of free agency. Few saw Trubisky as the long-term solution, which created additional speculation. Would Trubisky be the starter? If so, how would Matt Canada structure the offense with him? What about Mason Rudolph? Would Trubisky and Rudolph compete? Was their room for Dwayne Haskins in that equation? Would the team still pursue a quarterback in the upcoming draft? The situation seemed far from settled.

The Trubisky signing kicked off a free agency period like none other in Pittsburgh. With Roethlisberger’s contract off the books, the Steelers enjoyed the rare luxury of having money to spend. General manager Kevin Colbert, in the final months of his long tenure, closed with a bang. After Trubisky, the Steelers signed James Daniels, Myles Jack, Mason Cole, Gunner Olszewsky, Genard Avery, Levi Wallace, Damonte Kazee and Miles Boykin. They re-signed Chuks Okorafor, Ahkello Witherspoon, Miles Killebrew, Terrell Edmunds and Montravious Adams. It was a free agency feast for an organization that, in most years, typically picked at leftovers.

At BTSC, I could barely keep up with the news. Each signing sent Geoffrey Benedict and I scrambling to the film room. There was little time to focus on the draft. It was frantic yet exhilarating. The Steelers were not taking Roethlisberger’s retirement laying down. They intended to compete, and were going to use their resources to do so. The standard was the standard.

Then, in the midst of the free agency flurry, and just weeks from the draft, the shocking news came that Haskins had been struck by a vehicle and killed while trying to cross a highway in Florida. It was a sobering moment that made the debates over how the new free agents would fare or whose mock draft was most brilliant seem meaningless. Haskins was just 24 years old, with a long life in front of him. It was only natural in the wake of the tragedy to hug our kids a little longer, to appreciate a sunset often overlooked, or to simply take stock of our lives and vow to do better.

Inevitably, life moved on, the draft came, the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with their top pick and the frenzy resumed. What did this mean? Was Trubisky merely a place-holder? Would Pickett win the starting job outright? Was Rudolph trade bait? Some argued the Steelers should not have taken a quarterback. Others said they took the wrong one. These were conversations many fan bases had on a semi-regular basis. In Pittsburgh, it was the first such debate of the BTSC era.

And yet, with everything that had happened, the intrigue was still building. Colbert stepped down after the draft, and the Steelers had another rare and coveted opening to fill. They hadn’t hired a general manager since 2000, when the position was titled Director of Football Operations. They granted Colbert general manager status in 2010, so technically, Colbert’s replacement would be the first such hire in franchise history. Whomever got the job had the tricky task of replacing a future Hall of Fame candidate who had steered the Steelers through two decades of sustained success. Filling Colbert’s shoes would be as daunting as filling Roethlisberger’s.

When Omar Khan was announced as Colbert’s replacement, reactions were mixed. Yet Khan came out swinging. In his first few weeks on the job, he signed Minkah Fitzpatrick to a contract extension that made him the highest paid safety in NFL history, then grabbed free agent defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to fill the void left by Stephon Tuitt’s retirement (that happened, too — par for the course in an off-season where the unexpected was the norm).

If intrigue describes my mindset heading into the off-season, fascination describes its product. What the Steelers have done since Roethlisberger announced his retirement has been franchise-altering. New quarterbacks. New coaches. New executives. Each year brings change, but these changes, in a place that values stability the way Pittsburgh does, are seismic.

I have no idea what it will produce once real football resumes. My suspicion is the Steelers have done some good things the past five months. I believe Trubisky will be the starting quarterback. I like him more than most, and I think he will play well in Canada’s offense (which I also like more than most). Trubisky will benefit from an upgraded offensive line, their biggest weakness in 2021. They won’t be a Top 5 unit in the league, or even Top 10. But they won’t stink, either, which is significant.

Elsewhere, I think Flores will pay dividends in both game-planning and in the subtle, unseen work that takes place on practice fields and in film rooms. The draft class is promising, especially at the receiver position, which needed dynamic players. The free agent signings have some hidden gems, in particular Kazee, who I believe will play a larger role this season than many anticipate. And Khan, while the sample size is small, has made a good first impression in his initial month on the job. There is far more to like than to dislike.

This off-season, for the first time in a generation, the Steelers were forced to reassemble from their core. They did so aggressively, in ways that were bold and sometimes surprising. There were arrivals and departures along the way, including a terrible tragedy. The 2022 squad will be very different from the one that walked off the field after the playoff loss in Kansas City in January. Will they be better? That’s anyone’s guess. But no matter what, it will be fascinating to watch.

As expected, Steelers fans see a wide range of success/failure for the 2022 Steelers

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be really good, or really bad in 2022. Which will it be? No one knows...

When it comes to the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers, not many have any concrete answers regarding the outcome of the upcoming season. What used to be easy, now is filled with question marks.

  • What will life without Ben Roethlisberger look like?
  • Will Omar Khan change the organizational philosophy as the General Manager (GM)?
  • What will the defense look like with Teryl Austin at the helm?
  • How will Brian Flores impact the defense?
  • With the players in place, how will Matt Canada’s offense do this year?

You get the picture, but when you ask a Steelers fan how they think the season will go, no one has a clue. Some think the team will stink, while others think they’ll shock the world. It is quite the range in expectations for this season.

For these reasons, and so many more, I decided to pose the question to Steelers fans last week asking what the ceiling and floor would be for the 2022 team? The ceiling being the best they could do, and the floor being the worst possible outcome.

As you can imagine, the range predicted by the fans was very different. First, let’s take a look at the ceiling:

75% of the fans polled believe the team could win 10-12 games if things go their way this season. But what about the floor? How bad could things get. Let’s take a look:

You read that correctly, a whopping 49% of fans see the worst possible scenario being 6-7 wins for the black and gold this season.

So, when you look at the range, Steelers fans believe the team could be anywhere from 6-12 wins. Talk about drastically different results. Nonetheless, when you look at the sportsbook win total for the Steelers this year being set at 7.5, most fans would tell you to take the over on that bet.

What do you think? Do you foresee the Steelers doing well and keeping Mike Tomlin’s non-losing season streak continuing? Or are you someone who sees this as a re-building season and the start of some difficult years for the Steelers? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare to report to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

The Steelers can’t continue to build a young roster if they sign a bunch of aging players

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers need to continue to develop youngsters like Dan Moore, a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft who started 16 games at left tackle last season.

Back in the old days, before social media, countless Tweeters giving you their thoughts on everything, and millions of podcasters asking you to “like and subscribe,” a Steelers fan could spend an offseason being mildly excited about a second-year player and fourth-round pick who started 16 games at left tackle the year before.

That was the reality—at least the starting 16 games part—in 2021 for Dan Moore Jr., a rookie fourth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M. Did Moore spend the majority of his starts making you forget about Anthony Munoz? No, but he acquitted himself quite well for a player who wasn’t even expected to contribute much going into training camp before spending that entire time turning heads and winning the starting job.

Was Moore’s quick ascension up the Steelers depth chart helped along by the team’s uncertainty along the entire offensive line—including the health of Zach Banner?

Yes, but who cares now? Point is, Moore did okay for himself as a rookie. He was put in a tough spot and didn’t wither. He may have struggled at times, and he may have needed help while blocking some of the more prolific defenders he went up against, but to quote Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, “The moment wasn’t too big for him.” Despite the issues the young offensive line had in 2021—these were mostly the same issues the old offensive line had in 2020—Moore never felt like a liability.

While Kendrick Green, who may have been playing out of position as an undersized center, struggled mightily as a rookie third-round pick and was eventually replaced in the starting lineup—Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' now-former general manager, claimed this was because of an injury—Moore kept his starting job all year.

Moore gained valuable experience as a rookie. It was baptism by fire. It was a year that he can use to grow as a player. It was a rookie season fans should be excited about (relatively speaking—we are talking about a left tackle, after all).

Is there uncertainty with Moore? Yes, but that doesn’t mean I want to run out and replace him with the nearest 31-year-old still sitting on his couch in June. I don’t want Eric Fisher. I didn’t even want the Steelers to select an offensive tackle in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

I want to see more from Moore. I want to see him continue to grow as a left tackle in the National Football League. The Steelers are a young team—one of the youngest in the NFL at the moment. They are in a transition period. They are trying to build something special. In most cases, building something special means building with youth.

As hard as this is to believe, not every young player has to come with a high pedigree.

If Ramon Foster, an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2009, wasn’t allowed to mature and grow as a young guard in the NFL, he never would have turned into a model of durability and consistency in the 2010s for a highly-decorated Steelers offensive line full of first and second-round draft picks.

If Levi Wallace, an undrafted free agent out of Alabama in 2018, wasn’t given the opportunity to battle through his early struggles in Buffalo, he never would have grown into a starting corner by his second season. Wallace became such a valuable member of the Bills’ defensive backfield by 2021 that they barely missed a beat after Tre White was lost late in the year with a knee injury. Finally, if Wallace wasn’t allowed to blossom into a valuable NFL starter in Buffalo, he never would have been in a position to sign a two-year deal with the Steelers last spring.

If Rocky Bleier, a 16th-round pick out of Notre Dame in the 1968 NFL Draft, wasn’t given ample time to heal after being seriously wounded in Vietnam, he never would have become a valuable member of the Steelers' offensive backfield in the 1970s and a four-time starter in the Super Bowl. Bleier’s underdog story was so inspiring that ABC produced a Made for TV movie about it in 1980, titled, Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story. Sadly, if a social media influencer produced a YouTube video about a modern-day Bleier, there's a good chance it would be titled, Hot Garbage: The Rocky Bleier Story.

We seem to be in a new world now where everyone wants a sure thing at the top of the depth chart and even an ironclad insurance policy as a backup.

Backups can’t look like Benny Snell Jr. any longer. They must look like David Johnson.

Newsflash, most backups, regardless of position, look like Benny Snell.

As for those starters who began their football careers as mid-round picks or lower? They’re the life-blood of the NFL. When you find one who can contribute right away—even if he has his ups and downs during his rookie campaign—you see if you can build on it. It’s like found money. It’s like an unexpected windfall.

There may be a time when the Steelers have to address the left tackle spot, but not now, not when they have such a promising youngster in Dan Moore Jr. heading into his second training camp as the incumbent starter.

Finally, it’s a good thing free agency didn’t exist in 1989. If so, the Steelers may have felt the need to go out and sign some veteran to play left tackle. This may have prevented John Jackson, a 10th-round pick out of Eastern Kentucky in the 1988 NFL Draft, from starting 130 games for them over the next nine seasons.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Tue, 06/28/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website, but now we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

BAD Language: Super Bowl or Bust?

Everybody’s got an opinion. Some subscribe to conventional wisdom. others are ill-informed, while some are unorthodox and way out there. So, BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis decided to make no apologies and share his black-and-gold brand of enlightenment. Join BAD preaching his own gospel of the hypocycloids on the new show, BAD Language. This week, it’s all about how some fans measure success by the Super Bowl or Bust philosophy.

  • News and Notes
  • Measuring Steelers Success
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: The Steelers Bubble is “a-forming”

The Steelers have a good idea of who the majority of their 2022 roster will comprise of. But bubble dwellers are already surfacing. Who are they? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo (Shannon White is out this week) with discussion of this and more on the Steelers Hangover.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • What Steelers could go either way in 2022?
  • and MUCH MORE!
From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Steelers laying it on the O-Line

The Steelers worked diligently in the off-season to beef up the offensive line from a paltry state in 2021. Where do these newcomers and carryovers fit in? Geoffery Benedict examines this and more on the latest episode of BTSC’s “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Steelers protectors on the roster and their fit into the Steelers line.
  • and MUCH MORE!

Geoffrey walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Alex Highsmith & Myles Jack

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 17 of Going For Two, featuring Alex Highsmith and Myles Jack

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Alex Highsmith Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Age: 24
Year: 3
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 242
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 102, 2020
College: Charlotte
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Seeing a bump in playing time in 2021 as the full-time starter, Alex Highsmith saw a more-than-proportional bump in stats in a lot of categories. Nearly doubling his defensive snaps from 437 in 2020 to 851 in 2021, Highsmith saw his sacks triple from 2.0 to 6.0 as well as his tackles for loss going from 5 to 15. Highsmith also more than doubled his quarterback hits and added a forced fumble in 2021. While his tackles were not quite double, he also played less than 25% of the special team snap he saw in 2020. Locked in as the starter opposite T.J. Watt, the questions about Alex Highsmith in 2022 have a little to do with his roster status or playing time but how much more he will grow as a player in year three.

Myles Jack Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Age: 26
Year: 7
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 255
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 36, 2016 (Jacksonville Jaguars)
College: UCLA
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

For the second-straight season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be looking to a former Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebacker for help in their defense. This year, former second-round pick Myles Jack comes to the Steelers after six years in Jacksonville where he had over 500 tackles in 82 games started. Still only 26 years old but will turn 27 just before the regular season begins, the play of Myles Jack may have a huge effect on the overall success of the Steelers defense. If Jack ultimately brings improvement to an inside linebacker unit that struggled last year, the Steelers defense should look to be better all around, especially against the run were they ranked last in 2021.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Be a part of the BTSC Fan Post weekly contest/question

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The “dog days” of Steeler Football are here, but this may help pass that time until the Black and Gold re-take the field.

I still find myself sneaking into the Fan Post section of BTSC. Even with such great content on the front page, there are occasionally some solid articles still being written there. In the past, I have made a point to pass on some of those articles to our Senior Editor, and in return he has posted many of those articles on the front page. Not only does it provide exposure for someone interested in writing, but it can provide BTSC with potential future writers.

This particular idea is not my own, but one from Pin Stripe Alley, where the Editor poses a writing subject/question and the members that are interested write about that subject or question in a Fan Post. The winner gets their respective article posted on the front page.

Every Monday for the next six weeks I will provide a subject or question. The article must be submitted by Friday of the same week with plans for it to be published on Sunday. In the heading of the article make sure to add that it is for the Front Page Submission. also attach your own article heading.

Example: Front Page Submission - Pickett not Marino, Steelers refused to let another Pitt Panther QB slip by them

I shouldn’t have to remind everyone, but I will. Make sure all articles submitted follows the SB Nation/Vox/CORAL Guidelines. Those that don’t will not be considered.

This Week’s Subject/Question:

The signing of Larry Ogunjobi was yet another piece to the 2022 Steelers Puzzle. There are concerns with his 2021 injury, but you have to admit Omar Khan is doing things. I still expect an extension, or maybe even two, but I get the feeling he isn’t done in terms of adding to the roster.

In that spirit, put on your GM glasses and find me a trade that could benefit the 2022 Steelers, or even beyond. Keep in mind there is a salary cap and let’s keep it with in reason, but by all means be creative in your article.

Thanks again for this week’s submissions and as always Stay Safe and Go Steelers!

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers won’t make any significant roster moves before camp

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at Saint Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers won’t make any significant roster moves before training camp

Why it will happen: The Steelers have made some moves in recent weeks, both extending Minkah Fitzpatrick and bringing in Larry Ogunjobi, but the odds of them bringing another player before the team reports July 26th seems to be far fetched. It isn’t that the team couldn’t bring in a player at several positions, but the team is more likely to take a wait-and-see approach to how the roster, and other teams’ cuts, develop.

Why it won’t happen: The Steelers do need some help at a few positions where talent still exists on the open market. Two come to mind — running back and cornerback. The team could view the team’s defensive backs, and backup running backs, and not want to wait for just the scraps remaining on the market. This would equate in the team taking an aggressive approach to players remaining and bringing in another player before the team even gets to Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

Prediction: As much as I would like the Steelers to go out and sign a player like David Johnson, I don’t see it happening. At least not yet. The Steelers have some cap space left, but if I’m Omar Khan I’m not about to spend that money before camp. If there is a key injury, I want to have the financial flexibility to go out and get another player without having to go into re-structure mode. I wouldn’t be shocked if the team makes a move, but if I’m putting money it, I’m guessing they wait until camp before making any type of significant roster move.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

For Steelers fans heading to training camp, make sure you have a ticket

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 10:00am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Tickets are free and available to the general public, but are required for entry for practice at St. Vincent College

The Pittsburgh Steelers are returning to St. Vincent College in Latrobe for their 2022 training camp. After two years of holding camp at Heinz Field due to the global pandemic, the Steelers are back to the normal training camp location which they have used for more than 50 years.

In 2021, although the Steelers were not in Latrobe, they were able to have fans at their open practices at Heinz field. All fans had to do was reserve a free ticket through Ticketmaster and they were granted a general admission entry.

As the Steelers return to St. Vincent in 2022, fans will once again need a ticket in order to attend training camp practice. This per information available at Steelers.com:

Steelers Nation will get their first chance to see this year’s team up close at practices listed on the schedule. Fans can win prizes and giveaways, participate in interactive football drills, take advantage of photo opportunities, get gear direct from the team at the Steelers Pro Shop and more.

Admission to open practices is FREE, but attendees MUST have a ticket. Mobile tickets will be encouraged for quickest and most secure entry into camp. Tickets are now available via Ticketmaster.

Although there was a pre-sale that began at 10 AM on Monday, June 27, 2022, tickets are available to the general public for reservation beginning at 12 PM the same day. Tickets are designated for specific dates and appear to have a maximum number of 12 on a given day per reservation. It has not been reported if there will be a limit on total tickets available each day causing specific practices to be sold out.

It should also be noted that the Friday Night Lights practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium is not included with the training camp tickets as it is a separate event. The following information is available from Steelers.com about this event:

Catch your favorite Steelers at a special evening practice UNDER THE LIGHTS! Join us at Latrobe Memorial Stadium for Friday Night Lights on Friday, August 5th. All profits will support Greater Latrobe Athletic Teams & Clubs, Greater Latrobe School Clubs & Groups, Booster Groups, and surrounding Latrobe Community Entities.

HOW TO BUY TICKETS:

Presale tickets can be purchased at Greater Latrobe Athletic Office on the Greater Latrobe Senior High Campus at 131 High School Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.

On Friday, August 5th, tickets will go on sale at Latrobe Memorial Stadium (131 Irving Avenue, Latrobe, PA 15650) and can be purchased throughout the day. Tickets can also be purchased at the booths as gates open at TBA.

Adults: $5 per ticket

Children Under 5: Free admission

For fans planning on attending training camp and looking for tickets, keep in mind that the Steelers first practice open to the public is Wednesday, July 27, with the first padded practice being on Monday, August 1. The final practice open to the public will be on Thursday, August 18.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, training camp coverage, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

FILM ROOM: What does Myles Jack bring to the Steelers defense?

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 8:30am
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The linebacker’s speed and IQ will generate head-turning plays, but there are areas to better.

It’s safe to say the Steelers have had one of the most hectic offseasons of any NFL team this cycle, let alone in Pittsburgh history.

From adding two new potential starting quarterbacks to a nascent general manager and defensive coordinator to several high-profile signings, the Steelers will field a team with black-and-gold newcomers across the board in 2022. One player who fits such criteria is Myles Jack.

When Jack was released by the Jaguars on March 15, the fit in Pittsburgh seemed obvious: Joe Schobert was a likely cut candidate, and Mike Tomlin could take a flier on a young yet veteran field general. The Steelers did just that by signing Jack to a two-year, $16 million deal a day later.

With an inescapable quarterback battle and more recent adds like defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, it can be easy to forget about Jack. However, the 26-year-old will play a significant role in Tomlin’s reconstituted defense, led by new DC Teryl Austin and senior defensive assistant Brian Flores.

The numbers seem to indicate Jack had a lackluster season in 2021: his 37.7 Pro Football Focus grade was the lowest of his career and was the fourth-worst of any ‘backer to play over 900 snaps. Further, the UCLA alum tallied zero takeaways after having one each of the last four years.

The film, however, suggests that Jack still brings talent to the Steelers via his physical attributes, football acuity and emotive play. At the same time, there are frustrating lapses that can emerge in coverage, play recognition and the run game.

Overall, what will Jack contribute to the Steelers’ defense for 2022, if not also 2023? Let’s take a more intricate look.

When watching Jack, it’s hard not to notice his speed and quickness. Whether in coverage or in pursuit, Jack can really turn on the jets.

On this first play, Jack stays step-for-step with Christian Kirk, and makes it look rather effortless. Jack didn’t formally run a 40-yard dash, but the fact he’s able to keep pace with Kirk’s 4.47 speed up the field — while not appearing to fully exert himself — is impressive.

It’s not just down-the-field speed with Jack (No. 44), though. Laterally, the linebacker demonstrates the ability to close gaps in a hurry, as he does here on a PA Boot by looking onto tight end Pharaoh Brown, neutralizing him.

Even when Jack is slow to react — more on that in a bit — his agility allows him to get right back into plays and make a tangible impact. On this read option, Jack takes a step or two to his right before planting his foot in the ground and charging toward Kyler Murray, forcing the quarterback out of bounds.

When Jack meshes his speed with his instincts and understanding of concepts, it really is a sight to behold.

In virtually every game I watched, Jack would make a splash play of sorts against the run, whether it be screaming downhill to stifle a snap or waiting patiently for the play to develop and then hitting the precise gap with expertise.

This run against Derrick Henry and the Titans is a prime example. As Tennessee runs an outside zone, Jack recognizes space in the A gap as center Ben Jones can’t get to the second level. From there, Jack detonates on fullback Khari Blasingame, blowing the play up.

What is even more refined about Jack’s run stoppage is the patience he exhibits before deciding to plow forward.

On this draw against Arizona, Jack engages with center Rodney Hudson; rather than motor straight ahead, Jack waits for James Conner to pick his spot, at which point Jack block-sheds and darts to get the stop.

Being able to find the correct gap to shoot and doing so at full speed in one fell swoop puts Jack in elite territory. His ability to acutely follow pullers and track the progression of the run without stopping is stellar, as he does here to Mark Ingram.

There’s something quite satisfying about watching Jack stand his ground, wait for blocking engagements to unfold and then explode toward the ball-carrier with an edge. This work on a Javonte Williams counter is perfect.

Even if Jack can’t sniff out a run in its infancy, he’s shrewd enough to tread water and fight through traffic, ranging sideline to sideline to make stops.

It’s not only in run prevention that Jack leverages his speed, however. In coverage, he boasts quickness with good ball skills and awareness.

If you’ve ever watched backpedal drills at the Combine and felt they had little translation to real game speed, this play reflects otherwise. Jack plays the hook curl by backpedaling, accelerating forward and then smoothly flipping his hips to take away DeAndre Hopkins. For a linebacker in particular, Jack has good change of direction.

This next play may have been the most eye-popping one from Jack that I had the chance to watch. The Colts run a 3x1 formation with an in-breaking route behind a slot fade. Playing the deep middle, Jack tracks the slot receiver the entire way, keeping up before getting his hands up to disrupt the play.

While less of a measurable trait, Jack truly plays with his heart on his sleeve, acting as if every down could be his last. As such, he is never afraid to hit hard — even if it’s Henry on the opposite of the line of scrimmage.

In particular, Jack can be a valuable asset in goal-line situations. His willingness to fly in and put his body on the line can be paramount in reinforcing stops, like he does here against Henry.

Moreover, Jack has a very high motor and never quits on a play. On this third down against the Broncos, Jack starts a legitimate 10 yards from the ball carrier; nevertheless, he gallops forward to prevent a new set of downs.

When a play may look over, Jack still puts himself in good position to back up potential miscues. After a missed tackle by Tyson Campbell on this quick out, Jack flaunts his range to make the play.

In a similar vein, Jack is always eager to join a dogpile of tacklers to truly bring a ball carrier to a halt. While Jack himself doesn’t entirely stop Tim Patrick on this snap, the desire to finish plays is admirable.

Jack’s competitive drive can manifest itself through outward expressions. This run up the middle prompts Jack to jaw with Tytus Howard well after the whistle.

It really feels like Jack hinges on every play, no matter the circumstance. If he makes a blunder or a big gain is surrendered, he’s not shy to express anger, such as by clapping or shaking his head.

Even though he’s a passionate player, Jack has generally avoided penalty. The linebacker was ejected for throwing a punch in 2019 but had just three flags thrown in 2021 and has one career unnecessary roughness infraction.

While 768 of Jack’s 917 snaps last season came in the box, 88 were along the defensive line. The Jags were not afraid to use Jack to rush the passer, and he showed capabilities of delivering as a rusher.

The main area in which Jack succeeded was getting hurries due to his speed, largely by charging the A gap. His quick-twitch ability can create major problems for offensive linemen; against the Seahawks, Jack splits the zone block to get pressure on Geno Smith, forcing a rushed throw.

Remember that physicality discussed earlier? It also shows up when Jack is blitzing. Lined up in the A again, Jack drives Chase Edmonds right back and gets good positioning with his outstretched hand to generate a poor throw from Murray.

Per PFF, Jack had a career-high 10 hurries in 2021, but they didn’t exactly come due to his outside pass-rushing repertoire. Jack typically defaults to a bull rush when lined up against tackles or unable to blow by O-linemen, but he lacks the power to generate push or separate.

Now that I’ve elucidated the areas in which Jack typically excels, it’s also important to zero in on some areas for improvement.

According to Pro Football Reference, Jack had a 3.6% missed tackle rate in 2021, which ranked second-lowest among inside linebackers to start 15+ games. At the same time, there were numerous instances in which Jack let playmakers get away.

The main reason why Jack experienced some struggles in tackling was due to poor positioning and leverage. Typically, Jack would try to corral ball carriers with just his arms.

Here, Jack follows Conner well out of the backfield and closes in after the catch is made. Yet rather than square off his hips and shoulders, Jack hesitates and then tries to grab Conner’s shoulder pads, which doesn’t go well.

A similar outcome unfolds on this run by Williams. Jack does a marvelous job getting outside to be in position to make a play, yet can’t space his feet well enough to get balance. Consequently, Williams ducks under the tackle for more yardage.

Where Jack does better in wrapping up offensive players is when he can utilize his full body. During this outside zone, Jack drives nicely to stop Samaje Perine. Notice how Jack shuffles and keeps his feet straight before transitioning to hitting Perine.

Alternatively, going in low does not seem to be a problem for Jack. Working as the backside edge in Houston, Jack careens down from behind for a combo tackle on Ingram.

Indeed, going for the legs will at least create a barrier for the runner, if not stop them altogether.

Another relatively worrisome element to Jack’s game was recognition of who actually had the ball. This concern reared its ugly head in both passes and runs.

Jack had one of his worst career games against the Bengals, and play action was the primary reason why.

C.J. Uzomah’s first touchdown came with the Jaguars in Cover 1 Robber with Jack in man coverage on Uzomah. After a fly motion, Jack bites hard on the fake run, leaving him too wide to get to Uzomah for a wide-open score.

Later in the game, the Bengals run a fake toss that gets Jack flat-footed and away from Tyler Boyd. Given that the Jaguars were in zone, this gap isn’t entirely on Jack — Campbell crept down from the flat, leaving Boyd more room — but Jack was spurned by the fake yet again.

Consider this snap against the Titans. Tennessee calls a read option in which Ryan Tannehill keeps the ball, but Jack has already engaged with the OL before realizing the QB still has it. Jack being deceived leaves a large hole in the Jags’ defense that Tannehill exploits.

Even though Jack is a smooth athlete and nimble for a linebacker, it felt like there were times where he’d be a step or two too slow in coverage this year.

On this play-action pass against Indy, Jack stares down Carson Wentz just a hair too long before realizing Jack Doyle is streaming free. Those precious seconds without Jack widening his coverage lead to a sizeable gain.

That wasn’t the only time Jack got beaten in coverage against the Colts. Playing the hook curl, Jack is initially in good position to cover Michael Pittman Jr. Then, Jack takes a few steps toward Mo Alie-Cox in the flat, leaving Pittman open. While not great coverage by Shaquill Griffin, the boundary corner, Jack needs to stay disciplined in his area of the field.

I mentioned Boyd earlier, and he gets the best of Jack yet again by creating just enough separation on a curl by driving his foot into the ground and forcing a stumble. This isn’t a bad play from Jack, per se, but it’s enough to lead to a completion.

Jack can definitely turn his hips well, but it’s not something that should be defaulted to in coverage, if at all avoidable. Playing over the middle of the field, Jack does a good job recognizing Uzomah coming over, but the linebacker spins too late to keep up with the speedy tight end. This is a nice throw from Burrow over Jack’s hand, but little things like that can add up.

Turning 27 in September, Jack brings phenomenal experience to the Steelers, having played in 88 games and three playoff contests, including catalyzing the Jaguars to a stunning win in Heinz Field in the 2018 AFC Divisional.

Despite the Jaguars’ woes, Jack was the heart and soul of their defense since his debut in 2016. In fact, Jack played at least 86% of defensive snaps for the Jags every year since 2017.

In the 15 games that Jack started in 2021, Jacksonville averaged 346.5 yards allowed per game; without Jack against the Dolphins (Week 6) and Jets (Week 16), the Jags surrendered 431 and 373 yards, respectively. Granted, JAX didn’t have Campbell in Week 6 or Allen in Week 16, but Jack’s absence was felt.

Jack is a freakish athlete whose speed should be employed in a multitude of facets by Flores, Austin and Tomlin. Lining him up to blitz from the A gap should be in play, and he even has the agility to suit up for some snaps in the slot.

The Steelers’ run defense was abnormally abysmal in 2021, primarily due to the absence of Tyson Alualu and the passive play of Devin Bush and Joe Schobert. Jack’s downhill presence and gap shrewdness should help ameliorate Pittsburgh’s run defense.

That being said, if Jack does not become more sound on play fakes, the Steelers’ inside linebacking corps could be in for some subpar reps in coverage yet again. Even with elite defenders like T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jack will be responsible for much of the middle of the field, and front- and back-level guys can only help so much if large vacancies emerge.

Another question will be whether Jack, Devin Bush or someone else wears the green dot. Jack had green dot duties revoked after Week 4 of last year; he feels he “could do it,” but it doesn’t necessarily seem that he wants to relay signals. While some have noted that Jack is worse while given an internal headset, I didn’t notice any significant difference in his play without it.

Although the play recognition is somewhat alarming, Jack’s tackling woes should be less apparent in a deep, talented defensive line, plus reinforcement from Fitzpatrick. Likewise, Jack should be in position to turn the tide in his takeaway numbers based on the sheer disruptiveness of the Steelers’ DL and its ball-hawking secondary.

While he may have a few blunders each game, Jack’s talent stands tall. A true every-down linebacker, Jack’s skill should spark several impact plays in every contest, and his impassioned spirit should make him a fan favorite.

Building the trust of Steelers fans in a world full of hot takes

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

When it’s the hottest of takes that get discussed more than anything else, is it better to be a trusted source of information?

I love this job.

I can’t believe that I have the opportunity each and every day to discuss, whether spoken or written, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I write words that people read, and I speak words that people listen to. It is crazy to think about, and a complete blessing.

I thought it was best to start off this way when talking about how I personally look at information when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether it be my influence as editor here at BTSC or not, I want to be somebody that when someone asks me a question about the Steelers they trust my opinion enough to consider it.

Unfortunately, it appears that we live in a world that, at this time, it’s those who scream the loudest and make the most noise who are often heard. And sometimes in order to be heard, what needs to be said ends up coming with a lot of shock and sensationalism. Maybe it’s because of my age, but that just isn’t me. If you could listen to me on any of my podcasts, you would know that I have no problem speaking loudly and often, so that is not the issue. But I’m also not looking at stirring the pot and creating headlines just for the sake of doing so.

Honestly, I just want to be somebody you can trust when it comes to talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

We live in a world of hot takes. The more controversial the statement, the more it gets passed around. And rather than just make a general statement, it’s so much easier to load it up with ‘absolutes’ in order to make it more buzzworthy. But at what cost?

Personally, I like to call out the sensationalism and ‘hot-takery’ for how it ultimately doesn’t stand up to reality. Bringing facts to a ‘hot take’ argument makes it very easy to come out on the right side of the discussion because so often it is those sensational statements that can’t stand up to scrutiny and a fact-based response.

It’s not that all the ideas behind hot takes are bad. Often they start with a realistic statement that gets morphed to an extreme to where it is then unbelievable. To give an example, this past week I had someone comment on one of my Twitter posts sharing an article from the “Going For Two” series and they said Kendrick Greene was the worst starting offensive lineman in the NFL last season and the Steelers should cut him from the team.

It’s not the statement wasn’t rooted in some sort of truth. Kendrick Greene struggled greatly with consistent play his rookie season, so much so the Steelers identified the position group as an area of need and went out and added to it in free agency. I don’t think many are going to argue with that statement. But why take a regular statement and take it so far to the next level it becomes completely false? Kendrick Green was not the worst starting offensive lineman in the NFL last season. Heck, he wasn’t even the worst starting center in the division (at least according to Pro Football Focus). So why is there a need for over-exaggeration?

Something you may be asking yourself is why I feel the need to bring up this topic at this time. It’s just something that has been in the back of my mind as Jeff Hartman and I will be bringing back the “30 scenarios in 30 days” article series at Behind The Steel Curtain beginning today. Sometimes I struggle with coming up with some of these ideas as I’m not looking to ruffle feathers (despite what you may think when you see my first scenario coming out on Tuesday), but giving an honest opinion of what I believe will happen this season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the last thing I’m going to do is to offer a hot take without any support.

As we work through the series, there’s going to be times where we feel certain players may achieve certain goals during the season. And while it’s nice to offer the prediction of the scenario, the last thing we want to do is to throw out an unrealistic take just for the sensationalism of the topic. It’s one thing to think Najee Harris will rush for 1,400 yards this season, it’s another to make the statement that he will rush for more yards this season than anyone else in NFL history— past, present, or future.

So if you end up indulging in the series by Jeff and I about our various predictions, remember that the goal is for us to give something substantial yet grounded in reality. We are not looking for a ‘hot take’ headline. But we will offer our opinions, both positive and negative, on how things could play out for the Steelers in 2022. If we decided to take the hot take route, we could probably have our articles get a lot more traction for the time being. But instead of that being our goal, we ultimately want our readers to have a place where they can trust what they read when they take the time to look at the site. Hot takes fade away, but being a trusted place for information has staying power.

For me, this all comes down to integrity. I’ve tried very hard to be someone who gives grounded opinions and presents facts as best as I can. I would rather have 10 people coming to me for my opinions because they trust my words than I would to have 1,000 people checking it out just to see what kind of ridiculous, crazy stuff I’ll say next.

There was never any doubt Kenny Pickett was going to sign his rookie contract

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett finally signed his rookie contract. That’s a relief...not!

“What I want to know is why Pickett hasn't signed his rookie contract yet?”

That phrase, or at least a similar one, became more popular in recent weeks whenever a BTSC article about any Steelers quarterback was published.

Obviously, the concern was over Kenny Pickett, the Steelers' first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, remaining unsigned with training camp fast approaching. The concern was of course put to bed on Thursday when news broke that Pickett had finally inked his four-year rookie deal.

Hooray!!!!!! But, why, though? I never understood the angst in the first place. Rookie holdouts are mainly a thing of the past, and they have been ever since the 2011 CBA made them that way. In 2011, rookie contracts—regardless of the position or round— became slotted, meaning, the seventh player in the first round gets a specific amount that is less than the sixth player chosen but also a specific amount that is more than the eighth player selected. It’s the same way for the seventh player drafted in the seventh round, even if the dollars and cents are on a much lower scale.

The length and amount of a rookie deal cannot be negotiated. Here is a 2019 article from Andrew Brandt, an NFL insider and former VP of the Green Bay Packers, that talks about what can be negotiated in a rookie deal; if you didn’t feel like clicking on the link, I will just say that, well, not much can be negotiated, at least not much that would lead to many holdouts. For example, the timetable of a rookie’s signing bonus—when he gets paid—can be negotiated, but the actual amount, just like the base salary, is already slotted in.

Back in the old days, when the sky was the limit for NFL rookies, holdouts were more frequent, and the fears of fans were more understandable. Rookie deals were all about what the team was willing to work out with a player’s agent—regardless of position or when a player was drafted.

It was even worse when there was an AFL, USFL (the legit one) or even the short-lived WFL (World Football League). In fact, if such a league existed in 2022, the NFL would probably lose out on superstar college players at such an alarming rate that the owners would likely attempt to change the language of the CBA so they wouldn’t be limited by what they could give to rookie draft picks.

Unless or until the NFL faces stiff competition again in the form of a viable rival league, a young football prospect will simply have to bet big on himself and hope that he can become a valuable commodity once it’s time to negotiate that all-important second contract.

With that in mind, why would any NFL rookie—including a quarterback trying to do all that he can to establish himself—hold out of training camp or even into the regular season?

It just wouldn’t make any sense from a football and even a business standpoint.

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