After the loss, there was a feeling among fans that things will only go downhill for the Steelers from that point and some of the current players on the team might not be the Steelers players to win Super Bowl with.
Before the loss to Jacksonville, a lot of Steelers players spent their time talking about the Patriots instead of their upcoming opponents, the Jaguars. Others like LeVeon Bell, were more focused on their contract situation than on helping the team advance to the Super Bowl.
The loss to Jacksonville stung the players and the fans, but instead of standing pat and trying to do the same thing next season with the same players, the Steelers front office has been trying to improve the team and give them a better chance to make the Super Bowl next year.
With the Steelers having to deal with a limited salary cap, the tea didn’t make a lot of noise at the start of free agency like most of the teams in the league did. They took their time and waited for the right moment to strike, coming to terms with former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jon Bostic and former Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett, which allowed them to release Mike Mitchell.
Bostic is a capable linebacker that can help the team against the run, but they will still be trying to find a replacement for Ryan Shazier, who suffered a career-threatening spinal injury last year, in the upcoming draft.
The Steelers still haven’t been able to come to a long-term deal with Bell, who is expected to be a big part of the offense once again, which led to the team using their franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year.
While both sides aren’t happy they haven’t reached a long-term deal, the team is hoping they will be able to come to an agreement before the start of the season. However, if the Steelers don’t believe they can come to terms with Bell, don’t be surprised to see them take a running back in the draft.
Even though the Steelers believe Bell is a big part of their future plans, they won’t give him a deal that will hamstring the franchise, especially when this draft is deep with talented backs.
Despite the contract dispute with Bell, the Steelers will once again have arguably the best offense in the NFL with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant all coming back next season.
The defense still has a few holes that need to be fixed, but that will be addressed in the draft so expect Pittsburgh to be contending with New England in the AFC this season. If they can avoid the distractions that prevented them from living up to their potential last season, the Steelers should be able to make a Super Bowl next year and win their league leading seventh Lombardi trophy.