Steelers 2020 offseason tracker: Key dates, free agency scorecard, NFL draft news, latest updates and more
After back-to-back non-playoff seasons, the Steelers are -- at least -- hoping for a deep postseason run in 2020
The standard is the standard. While some fans are giving the Pittsburgh Steelers a pass for going 8-8 amidst an injury-marred 2019 season, head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert are doing anything but. Regardless of the circumstances, the Steelers expect to be, at minimum, a playoff team on an annual basis. Despite losing Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Stephon Tuitt for a combined 34 games, the Steelers, largely on the strength of their defense, were 8-5 and on the inside track of the AFC playoffs with three games remaining. But their ongoing injury issues and quality of play at the quarterback position led to three straight losses to close out the season, as the Steelers watched the playoffs from home for a second straight year.
Despite last season's shortcomings, there were certainly some positives the Steelers have taken with them into the 2020 offseason. T.J. Watt, a former first-round pick, has blossomed into one of the NFL's premier defensive players. Defensive teammates Joe Haden, Cam Heyward, and Joe Haden joined him in the Pro Bowl, along with 2019 trade acquisition Minkah Fitzpatrick, a former first-round pick who was one of the major reasons why the Steelers went 7-1 during an eight-game stretch.
While Pittsburgh's defense developed into one of the league's most formidable units, the Steelers' offense struggled without Roethlisberger, who is expected to be back for the start of offseason workouts after undergoing elbow surgery last September. The Steelers are also confident that Conner and Smith-Schuster, 2018 Pro Bowlers who are entering the final year of their rookie contracts, will rebound after rocky 2019 seasons. Pittsburgh is also expecting more contributions from receiver James Washington, receiver/All-Pro return specialist Diontae Johnson, and running back Benny Snell. The offensive line, while getting older, is still one of the league's better units, led by perennial Pro Bowlers Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. Pittsburgh's special teams received a big boost in 2019, as Chris Boswell returned to Pro Bowl form following his disastrous 2018 season.
Throughout this offseason, we will update this story to provide the most up-to-date information regarding the Steelers. Let's kick things off by looking at the key upcoming dates on Pittsburgh's schedule.
Key upcoming dates
- Mid-April: The Steelers will receive their 2020 regular season schedule. The Steelers' home schedule will include the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Broncos, Texans, Colts, Eagles, and Redskins. Pittsburgh's road schedule will include games against the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Bills, Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants and Titans.
- April 23-25: Pittsburgh will take part in the 2020 NFL draft. The Steelers currently have five picks in the draft and won't be on the clock until the 50th overall pick.
- May 1-4: Teams may elect to hold their three-day rookie minicamp.
*The Steelers will also hold OTAs and one mandatory minicamp during several weeks in June followed by a roughly six-week break in the action before the start of training camp in late July. Final dates to be determined.
Free agent scorecard
Restricted free agents
The Steelers have tendered offers to Feiler and Hilton. They also signed Banner to a one-year deal.
Feiler became a full-time starter at right tackle last season, his fourth with the Steelers. In his third full season with the Steelers, Hilton, a defensive back, set career highs in starts (eight), tackles (65) and passes defensed (11).
*Restricted free agents will have to be tendered by the Steelers in order for them to be on the roster in 2020. The Steelers can assign a number of different tenders on their restricted free agents (original round tender, second-round tender, first-round tender, etc). Each tender comes with a higher 2020 salary. Those numbers have not yet been determined by the NFL.
Unrestricted in-house free agents
Keeping Dupree in the fold for 2020 is among the team's top offseason priorities. Now that he has been tagged, the Steelers have until July 15 to sign him to a longterm contract. The Steelers realistically didn't have a shot at keeping Hargrave, who signed a lucrative, three-year deal with the Eagles. Matakevich has landed in Buffalo, Finney has inked a two-year deal with Seattle, and Davis has resurfaced with the Redskins, who signed him to a one year deal.
The only players from this list that remain unsigned are Vannett and Burns, the Steelers' first round pick in the 2016 draft.
McDonald re-structured his contract on Monday, which should indicate that he will return to the Steelers for the 2020 season.
LG Ramon Foster
Unrestricted free agent signings from other teams
FB Derek Watt
DL Chris Wormley
TE Eric Ebron
Free agents signings for players cut by other teams
*It's important to differentiate between the players signed as unrestricted free agents and those signed after being cut by another team. This is true because players who are signed after being released by another team do not count in the compensatory draft pick formula for the team who signs them.
2020 NFL Draft picks
- Round 1: None
- Round 2: Pittsburgh
- Round 3: Pittsburgh*
- Round 4: Pittsburgh
- Round 5: None
- Round 6: Pittsburgh
- Round 7: Pittsburgh
The Steelers received a third-round compensatory draft pick for losing Le'Veon Bell in free agency last offseason.
Rumors, reports and updates
Wednesday, March 25: Steelers GM Kevin Colbert addressed. Pittsburgh, despite having about $10 million in cap space, is not expected to make any more free agent signings anytime soon.
"I think we're up against (the salary cap) pretty good," Colbert told the team's website. "We've made a lot of anticipated moves that we wanted to make. Unfortunately, we've had to make some subtractions from the roster. Can we still do some things further down the road? Sure. But in the short term, I would say that we're temporarily ... I don't want to say out of business, but we're satisfied with where we are at this point. We'll continue to address it as this continues to unwind."
Colbert also said that the Steelers will continue to try to sign OLB Bud Dupree -- who was franchise tagged last week -- to a longterm contract.
Friday, March 20: Pittsburgh agreed to terms with former Colts' tight end Eric Ebron, a 2018 Pro Bowler who caught a career high 13 touchdown passes that season. The Steelers were also finalizing a deal to send a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Ravens in exchange for defensive lineman Chris Wormley and a 2021 seventh round pick, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The Ravens' third-round pick in the 2017 draft, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound veteran has appeared in 39 regular season games, receiving 15 starts. He's tallied 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and seven passes defensed.
Thursday, March 19: The Steelers agreed to terms with former Chiefs OL Stefen Wisniewski, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Wisniewski, a 10-year veteran, won a Super Bowl with the Eagles before helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV back in February. Wisniewski, a Pittsburgh native who played at Central Catholic, has started at center as well as at guard during his time with the Raiders, Jaguars, Eagles and Chiefs.
Wednesday, March 18: Pittsburgh signed OT Zach Banner to a new one-year contract. The Steelers also signed LS Kameron Canaday to a two-year contract and terminated the contract of FB Roosevelt Nix. The Steelers also tendered offers to two restricted free agents, OT Matt Feiler and CB Mike Hilton.
Former Steelers safety Sean Davis agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Redskins.
Tuesday, March 17: The Steelers will sign former Chargers fullback Derek Watt when free agency opens on Wednesday. Watt, who spent four seasons with the Chargers, is the younger brother of Texans' pass rusher J.J. Watt and Steelers OLB T.J. Watt.
Pittsburgh placed Ryan Shazier on , allowing Shazier to remain with the organization in 2020. Shazier was on the team's physically unable to perform list the past two seasons after sustaining a serious spinal injury late in the 2017 season. Shazier has served the team in an unnamed role over the past two seasons.
Monday, March 16: The Steelerson OLB, Bud Dupree who will make just under $16 million under the tag in 2020. Dupree finished second on the Steelers with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2019.
Longtime Steelers starting left guard Ramon Foster . Foster spent 11 seasons with the Steelers, and was one of two players still remaining from the team's most recent Super Bowl team.
Tuesday, March 10: The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced thatin the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Thursday, August 6. This will mark the seventh time both Pittsburgh and Dallas have played in the Hall of Fame game, with both teams currently sporting 3-3 records. This will be one of (at least) two meetings between the two teams this season. The Steelers will face the Cowboys in Dallas during the regular season.
Also on March 10, the Steelers were rewarded a third round compensatory pick -- the 102nd pick in the draft -- by the NFL after losing running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Jesse James in free agency last offseason. Pittsburgh now has six total picks in the 2020 draft.
Monday March 2: The Steelers, according to Walter Football, met with 12 prospects during last week's NFL scouting combine from Indianapolis. All told, Pittsburgh met with Florida State running back Cam Akers, LSU center Lloyd Cushenberrry, Mississippi State cornerback Cameron Dantzler, Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson, Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson, West Virginia lineman Colton McKivitz, Utah running back Zach Moss, TCU receiver Jalen Reagor, Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson, Michigan edge rusher Josh Uche, and Boise State DE/OLB Curtis Weaver.
Tuesday, Feb. 25: A little over a week after Mike Tomlin alluded to the fact that the Steelers are not interested in an on-field reunion with Antonio Brown, general manager Kevin Colbert reinforced , who is looking to sign with someone after missing all but one game last season.
"We're always going to be concerned about Antonio Brown, the person," Colbert said. "We have moved on from Antonio Brown, and Coach Tomlin addressed that the last time he spoke with the media. We're worried about Antonio Brown, the person. He will always be a Steeler in that regard, but in that regard only."
Sunday, Feb. 23: Ben Roethlisberger received some good news recently after visiting with his doctors in California. Roethlisberger, who underwent season-ending elbow surgery just two weeks into the 2019 season, was cleared to begin throwing over the weekend for the first time since sustaining the injury.
"It was a good report," Roethlisberger told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I got to bypass the tennis ball throwing for a month and go right to the football. Still going to be about 2.5-3 months until I get total clearance from doc but we are doing good!"
Fans and teammates celebrated on social media upon seeing a video of Big Ben throwing a football over the weekend. The video and Roethlisberger's positive meeting with his doctors confirms the Steelers' belief that Big Ben will be ready when Pittsburgh begins offseason workouts in May. Mike Tomlin, during a recent appearance on "First Take," made it clear that he expects Roethlisberger to be the Steelers' starting quarterback when the team begins the 2020 regular season.
"This guy is the ultimate competitor," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger. "He's dropped the gauntlet down. He made the statement that he's coming back, and I look forward to watching him answer that challenge."
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