The Time is Now for Steelers to Solve Long-Time ILB Woes
The Steelers will head into free agency next week with many needs to fill on the defensive side of the football, which is particularly problematic at inside linebacker. However, while the NFL Combine had just occurred and there was a clear interest in some of those linebackers, this class is not deep but has enough of a top to be intrigued by some players.
There are some fascinating players, such as Drew Sanders, Jack Campbell, Trenton Simpson, and others that bring plenty of athleticism and upside to the position. Then, the next group has players like Noah Sewell, Dorian Williams, Daiyan Henley, and others that could add some depth. But overall, this inside linebacker class lacks a true elite top-end guy while not having the meat that most classes in recent memory have had.
That leaves the Steelers in a tough spot. They don’t just need inside linebackers, they need bodies there, too. Robert Spillane and Devin Bush are both free agents. Myles Jack has a hefty cap hit but will likely be kept around because they need guys and his level of play was solid prior to a groin injury that derailed his season.
However, where does this offseason really allow the Steelers to make things good for the Steelers at inside linebacker? How about the free agency class? This is one of the deepest free agency classes at the position in recent memory, with a peppering of experienced, reliable veterans and young players who are on the come-up.
If you want veterans, the flavor of the day could be Eric Kendricks, Lavonte David, Deion Jones, Cory Littleton, Denzel Perryman, Kwon Alexander, and more. For people that want to go younger, Tremaine Edmunds, Germaine Pratt, David Long, and T.J. Edwards line the free agent market as well. In all actuality, it comes down to the fact that this free-agent class could have the Steelers answer at the position in that crop.
Since Ryan Shazier’s tragic injury in Cincinnati, the Steelers have struggled to find any stability year over year. It has gone from Jon Bostic to Mark Barron to Robert Spillane to Devin Bush at the position. Nothing has given the Steelers anything but some disappointment at the spot. The lack of stability has hurt the team, even after they traded up for Bush to be the future of the position back in the 2019 NFL Draft. Now, a new leaf is overturned.
There are enough inside linebackers early for the Steelers to add youth to the position and get someone they like in the draft with four picks in the Top-100. Moreover, there are obvious connections to the Steelers for many of these players overall. If not now, when is the time for those long-time woes to be solved? Expect this offseason to be the offseason the Panthers finally get their inside linebacker situation solved for a good, long time.