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PFF Rates Mike Hilton as 27th Overall Free Agent, Predict He Re-Signs with Steelers

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Pro Football Focus has ranked Pittsburgh Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton as the 27th-best free agent available this offseason. Considered by some to be the best nickel cornerback in football, Hilton has been tremendous playmaker since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2016.

While Hilton is adept in coverage, he truly separates himself from others at the position as a blitzer and forcing turnovers.

He had another outstanding campaign in 2020, where he tallied 51 total tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, seven passes defended, three interceptions and three sacks. PFF views Hilton’s versatility as his greatest asset.

“Hilton epitomizes the do-it-all slot corner who can cover in both man and zone, play the run and blitz effectively,” the PFF staff writes. “The Steelers’ scheme allows him to show off all of those skills, and he’s quietly been one of the most valuable corners in the league since 2017.”

Losing Hilton in free agency would be a tough pill for the Steelers to swallow, and PFF agrees. The site is predicting Hilton to re-sign with Pittsburgh on a four-year, $12 million deal. It would carry a $4 million signing bonus.

With as cap-strapped as the Steelers are, re-signing Hilton should be their top priority in free agency, ensuring their defense remains intact and they hold onto one of their top playmakers.

Undrafted out of Ole Miss in 2016, Hilton bounced around practice squads before finally landing in Pittsburgh, where he has played his entire career since. Hilton has amassed 237 total tackles, 32 pass breakups, 30 tackles-for-loss, 9.5 sacks, seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries over four seasons with the Steelers.

Free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. on March 17 with the official start of the 2021 league year.

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Steelers

Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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