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Steelers Could Be Aggressive in Free Agency with More Cap Space



Steelers GM Kevin Colbert

PITTSBURGH — It’s certainly not in their DNA, but with the most salary cap space in recent memory, 2022 could be the year the Pittsburgh Steelers could buck their years-long trend of being a minor player in free agency and make a big splash when the market opens on March.

The Steelers have a lot of outgoing contracts after the 2021 season. The retirement of Ben Roethlisberger cleared up plenty of cap space to begin with, and pending free agents Eric Ebron, Terrell Edmunds, Joe Haden and JuJu Smith-Schuster took even more salary off their books heading into the offseason, and they can make even more.

As such, the Steelers have more cap space than ever before. Often working right up against the cap tight to the bone, the Steelers have not been active goers in free agency. Still, that could mean a change to the organization’s philosophy at large. They have rarely had this much excess cap space to work with at large.

“I think that we can comfortably say that we will have more salary-cap room than we’ve had,” general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday. “I don’t even think I can remember when we’ve had any excess room. We’re anticipating having more room going into this process.”

While the Steelers have certainly made some splash free-agent signings in recent memory, they have never been a team that splurges in free agency at large. Of course, that does not mean that can not change for the Steelers as the offseason moves forward, but it is not something that is in their character. Still, Colbert is leaving open the option for the team to push aggressively in the free agency market.

“I never view us as being that aggressive, front-of-the-line free agency team,” Colbert said. We never have been. I wouldn’t anticipate that changing. But I can’t say it wouldn’t. I hate to say that, because I’m saying two different things. We traditionally haven’t been, because we haven’t had that cap room. But we’ll look at who we like, what they may be valued at, how we can make it work to put the best 90 players, eventually down to 53, together.”

The Steelers could just as easily sit back with their money and take care of their own first. After all, they have plenty of key free agents and extensions to do if they so wish. However, as they continue to break down the draft class and go through their needs, the approach will become much clearer.

Alan Saunders provided reporting from Pittsburgh.

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