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If they wanted, the time is now for the Steelers to move on from Ben Roethlisberger

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 7:52am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Pittsburgh Steelers want to move on from Big Ben? If so, the time is now!

Now is the time to move on from Ben Roethlisberger. That is not going to be a popular statement for Steelers Nation, or the faithful here at BTSC. Before you break out the torches and pitchforks to drive away the monster who is making such a vile statement, hear me out first.

Can Roethlisberger bounce back from major elbow surgery?

As fans, we do not know what kind of shape (besides round) Big Ben is in. The Steelers have left fans in the dark regarding the nature of the surgery. There has been rampant speculation that the surgery was the Tommy John variety, which GM Kevin Colbert did not dismiss or confirm. Such a major surgery puts his 2020 season into speculation, let alone his career. We have seen the Grizzly Adams beard and have wondered how many chins are being hidden by it. Roethlisberger has not been known for a stellar physique, even with a whole offseason to train. When will his elbow allow him to fully train and prepare for a full NFL season?

Perfect time with a quarterback rich free agency market.

I cannot think of a better time to be in the market for a potential franchise quarterback than 2020. While some may moan and groan about names such as Philip Rivers, (never missed a game) Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, and even Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Some quarterbacks on that list are off the table, others are not and would come in at a much cheaper price than our 15-year veteran would. Could Winston or Bridgewater resurrect their stalled careers, or at least be a bridge quarterback until the Steelers find a true franchise guy? A stagnant offense derailed the 2019 season even though the elite defense drug the inept offense to eight wins. The defense should remain intact and does not need a signal-caller who throws for 5,000 yards while leading the league in interceptions.

What has to happen to allow such bold moves?

The first aspect that has to be in play is a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Why is this so important? Simply put, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to have the flexibility with their cap space not only to move on from our beloved 38-year-old quarterback. Under the current rules of the CBA, the Steelers’ hands are tied.

Post-June 1st designations.

The current CBA disallows June 1st designations. Why is this so important? The Steelers need cap space to bring another quarterback into the organization. The only way this is accomplished is cap space. The future Hall of Famer will count $33.5 million against the cap in 2020 but not all that money is guaranteed. If the Steelers move on from Big Ben, the team would eat $25 million in dead money and save a mere $8.5 million towards the cap. With a new CBA in place, it would allow June 1st designations. What happens when a team designates a player as a Post June 1st cut, the players guaranteed signing bonus can be split over two seasons. Now that $25 million cap hit turns into $12.5 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021. The move creates $21 million in cap space for 2020.

The current CBA also has a frustrating quirk to it — the 30% rule. I have talked about this extensively in the offseason as the rule is hindering the way the Steelers do business. In a nutshell, a player who signs a new contract has to have his contract structured so they cannot be back-loaded through 2023. Let’s say Pittsburgh signed Bridgwater to a four-year deal. If 2020 was $10 million, 2021 could not be higher than $13 million, 2022 could not be higher than $16 million, and 2023 could not be higher than $19 million. The new CBA would eliminate the rule and return the Steelers’ ability to work contracts like they normally would.

I love Ben as much as the rest of you, but this is a purely business decision. The career year he had in 2018 was because of being the most imbalanced team in the NFL throwing passes for over 70 percent of offensive snaps. Does he really have another 5,000 yards in him or will he top those 16 interceptions because of inactivity and being out of shape? What if Ben is not ready at the start of the 2020 season? The team surely does not have any cap space to go out and grab a decent backup. Now the team would be forced to watch Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges duke it out for who gets thrown to the wolves? No thanks, we saw how that played out last season. That tandem is better served riding the pine and learning.

The time is now to turn the page and snag a quarterback to start for a year or two, or possibly become the next franchise quarterback, while the Steelers have arguably the best defense in the NFL.

Which defensive player could be the Steelers’ top draft pick?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 6:31am
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have a first round pick, but could they go with a defensive player in Round 2? Time to see who those players could be...

It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense was their Achilles heel in 2019. With Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, the revolving door of Mason Rudolph and undrafted free agent Devlin (Duck) Hodges was deployed at the most important position in football. The Steelers were the only team in the NFL who did not score 30 points in a single game all season and should be the focal point of the Steelers’ off-season. If the Steelers were to shock the world and go with a defensive selection at pick 49 who could be a possibility at that juncture that was too good to pass up?

An edge rusher could be the pick at 49 if the Steelers want to sure up the position post-Bud Dupree. Depth is also needed at the position with Anthony Chickillo on his way out and outside of the preseason, Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper are virtual unknowns.

Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame – Okwara had an impressive 2018 campaign but couldn’t improve on that as he was injured nine games into his senior season with a broken fibula. Okwara is 6’4”, 252lbs and looks like he could build upon that frame. His brother, Romeo, plays defensive end for the Detroit Lions and if Julian is headed for that frame, we’re in good shape. Okwara is athletic and possesses the tools to build upon to reach his potential. The former Notre Dame product can run the arc and flatten with ease, making it difficult to contain him, but he still lacks a counter move to keep tackles on their toes. There is a lot to build upon here and learning behind Dupree for a season would be super beneficial.

Joshua Uche, EDGE, Michigan – Uche has impressive production as far as tackles for loss and sacks go the past two seasons, totaling 18.5 TFL and 14.5 sacks. Uche was not even a starter last season when he produced 7 sacks. Uche has experience as an edge rusher and as an off-ball linebacker, his versatility making him that much more attractive as a prospect. Uche is an athletic prospect with a quick get off and can get around the corner very naturally, making him a problem when rushing the passer. If that’s not enough, Uche has a diversified pass rush arsenal to keep tackles guessing. As an outside linebacker he would be tasked to cover, and the former Wolverine is up to the task.

With the impending departure of Javon Hargrave, a pass rushing nose tackle who can also serve as depth at the position is needed. There are a few prospects that would be very tough to bypass if available at 49.

Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU – Blacklock would be an absolute stud of an addition to this defense. He wreaks havoc at the point of attack, splitting blockers and exploiting gaps quickly to get into the laps of opposing quarterbacks. His athleticism is a very attractive trait as well, with his lateral quickness coming in handy against the run. Blacklock needs to work on holding his own at the point of attack and against the run. The former Horned Frog did miss the entire 2018 season with an Achilles injury, but rebounded very strong. Blacklock would be an instant starter at nose tackle and would be my pick to be the top backup at both defensive end spots.

Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M – A productive player in every facet of the game. The past two seasons combined, 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and a blocked kick. The former Aggie is frequently in the backfield and uses his athleticism to use a variety of pass rush moves to penetrate. There is a ton of traits to build off of to mold into an excellent one gapping nose tackle, but he will need to add to his frame. Needs to work on his get –off and explosion off the snap, but that can be coached up.

Only two positions mentioned here, with three being left out. Safety depth is surely needed, but with two starting safeties already at the helm, it would be absolutely earth shattering to see a player taken in round two that isn’t given a clear path to start. Cornerback was also left off this list with Joe Haden and Steven Nelson slotted as the outside starters and Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton competing for the slot. Cornerback, for once it seems, isn’t a huge need, especially with Justin Layne selected in round three of last year’s NFL Draft. I’d be hard pressed to see a linebacker taken so early with other needs so apparent. This linebacker class is pretty deep, so I could see the Steelers waiting a while if they choose to draft one.

Let me know in the comments if there was a defensive player not mentioned that you’d like to see drafted at 49!

Podcast: With key dates looming, how will the Steelers, and the NFL, respond?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Preview” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

The 2019 season is now over, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the offseason, it is time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Should keeping the team’s defense together be a priority?
  • News on the NFL’s response to COVID-19
  • Steelers Trivia
  • Position Breakdown: Tight End
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

The After Party podcast will be published in audio platform after 1:00 p.m. ET, and the audio can be found below:

Black and Gold Links: Making the obvious known, Steelers predicted to tag Bud Dupree

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 4:32am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers are predicted to indeed place a tag on Bud Dupree in the coming week.

Let’s get to the news:

  • This isn’t going to surprise anyone, but the Steelers are predicted to franchise tag Bud Dupree for the 2020 season.

2020 NFL free-agency predictions: Our picks for all 32 teams’ top player on the market

By: ESPN, Staff Writers

Pittsburgh Steelers

Bud Dupree, linebacker

After four mediocre seasons with the Steelers, Dupree had a breakout season in 2019 with a career-best 11.5 sacks opposite of T.J. Watt. The two are cornerstone pieces, and the Steelers’ front office has been consistent in saying they want to keep Dupree in Pittsburgh. But because Dupree has played himself into a high value on the open market, they will have to use the franchise tag to keep him.

Prediction: The Steelers don’t hesitate to tag Dupree and keep him around for at least one more season. — Brooke Pryor

To read the full article, click HERE (ESPN+)

  • The Steelers, along with other NFL Franchises, are keeping business as usual despite the scare of the coronavirus.

Many teams, including Saints, say they continue to operate business as usual

By: Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk

Eagles coaches are not on the road for pro days, but Zach Berman of reports that “it’s not based entirely on concerns about COVID-19.” The new coaching staff wants to stay on site, preparing for free agency and working on schemes.

Eagles scouts are traveling to pro days.

Many teams, including the Jets, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, appear to be sticking with the “business as usual” mantra for now. The 49ers, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, don’t normally send coaches on the road this time of year anyway, and area scouts continue to attend pro days.

The Steelers have adjusted some of their travel plans, though coach Mike Tomlin is expected to attend Clemson’s pro day on Thursday.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • A rock for the Steelers defense...the defensive line.

Steelers-By-Position: Defensive Linemen

By: Bob Labriola,

Another in a position-by-position series in advance of the start of free agency on March 18.


Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Javon Hargrave, Cam Heyward, Dan McCullers, Henry Mondeaux, Stephon Tuitt, L.T. Walton

(Free Agent Scorecard: 2 unrestricted – Javon Hargrave, L.T. Walton)


The injury that cost the team the services of Ben Roethlisberger for all but six quarters of the 2019 regular season gets most of the attention, and deservedly so, but it wasn’t the only significant injury the Steelers were forced to try to overcome. The other was to Stephon Tuitt.

Through the first five games of the regular season, Tuitt played 59.4 percent of the defensive snaps, and he and Cam Heyward were on the way to posing the kind of problems to opponents on the interior of the line of scrimmage that T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree would end up posing to those same opponents from the edges.

Tuitt tore a pectoral muscle five defensive snaps into the sixth game of the regular season, which was against the Chargers in Los Angeles, and to that point he had 22 tackles, including six for loss, 3.5 sacks, and seven hits on the quarterback. Since Tuitt had no tackles or sacks in the game against the Chargers before being injured, his stat line could have projected to 70 tackles and 11 sacks. That would have gone nicely with Heyward’s 83 tackles and nine sacks, even though projected totals often fall short of the actual numbers.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The Steelers are being proactive when it comes to their travel during the COVID-19 outbreak

Can the Steelers rely on takeaways again in 2020?

The complete list of Steelers 2020 NFL Draft picks

Placing a grade for the impending tagging of Bud Dupree

A loophole to not have the Steelers on HBO’s Hard Knocks?

  • Social Media Madness

QBs beware #UltimateHighlight

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 12, 2020

5️⃣9️⃣ receptions
6️⃣8️⃣0️⃣ receiving yards
5️⃣ receiving touchdowns
1️⃣ punt return touchdown

A solid rookie year for @Juiceup__3!

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 11, 2020

Where we're picking in the 2020 #NFLDraft.


— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 11, 2020


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