The Pittsburgh Steelers built a lot of momentum for the 2023 season with how they closed out the 2022 campaign. After going 2-6 ahead of their bye week, Pittsburgh turned it on in the second half of the season, finishing 9-8. It was the 16th straight non-losing season for head coach Mike Tomlin to begin his head coaching career and the Steelers are in a great spot to keep that streak alive.
A lot of focus is on Kenny Pickett heading into Year 2 of his career and first as the unquestioned starter. Last offseason he lost the quarterback battle to Mitchell Trubisky but was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 5.
His development will be key to how high the Steelers can go. The offensive line has been upgraded in a major way with Isaac Seumalo being signed away from the Philadelphia Eagles and Broderick Jones being selected in the first round.
With a strong supporting cast of skill position players also around him, Pickett has all of the tools to succeed. While all eyes are on him, arguably the biggest need remaining for the front office to tackle is pass-rushing depth.
The Steelers have a star in T.J. Watt and he is bookended by the blossoming Alex Highsmith, who had 14.5 sacks last season. However, the depth behind them is questionable as we saw how much Watt being sidelined impacts the team. Without him in the lineup, Pittsburgh is 1-8 the last two seasons.
Adding some experienced depth to the roster would make sense. There is no such thing as too many pass rushers, so acquiring some won’t be easy. But, there are a few options that Omar Khan can explore.
One player who would fit the Steelers’ needs is Dante Fowler Jr. of the Dallas Cowboys. He excelled in a situational pass-rushing role last season in Dallas and would be asked to do the same in Pittsburgh. That is what the Steelers had hoped Melvin Ingram would be able to do, but he was unhappy with the role and was eventually traded.
Fowler was productive with six sacks and 11 hurries last season despite playing only 30 percent of the snaps. With a small cap hit, the Steelers would be able to fit him into the payroll.
Another player that would fit the bill is Denico Autry. Making a trade with the Tennessee Titans would probably be much easier as they are entering a transition period. Veterans up and down the roster have been involved in trade rumors and the Steelers could try taking advantage.
Autry is in the final year of his contract and wouldn’t cost a ton to acquire. He would provide excellent depth along with Armond Watts behind Cameron Heyward, enabling the team to bring rookie Keanu Benton along at his own pace.