Imagine if every player in the NFL immediately became a free agent, and a re-draft was conducted to determine who plays where. That’s exactly what ESPN has done with their latest piece.
ESPN had their 32 NFL Nation reporters re-draft four foundational pieces for their respective teams out of a pool of every NFL player.
Each fake general manager had to pick a quarterback, a defender, and a non-quarterback offensive player. The fourth selection could be used on anyone.
In addition, salary caps were irrelevant, the other 20 starters were assumed to be league average and GMs were asked to draft with the intent of winning a Super Bowl within five years. The order of the 2020 NFL Draft was used in a snake format, all teams had their original picks.
The Steelers were in an unenviable position at No. 18 with 13 quarterbacks already off the board. Still with options running low at the position, ESPN’s Brooke Pryor selected new Carolina Panthers signal caller Teddy Bridgewater for the Steelers.
“At No. 18, I felt like I was in no-man’s land,” Pryor wrote. “The top-tier QBs were off the board, and the some of the best skill players were also gone. I decided to go with Bridgewater because he has shown the potential to jump into the next tier of QBs, and I think a couple of years in New Orleans have made him even better.”
With the Steelers second round pick, Pryor selected a familiar face in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, securing a defensive cornerstone for the rebuild.
“Then I focused on getting a game-changing defensive player,” Pryor said. “A young Swiss Army knife talent like Fitzpatrick more than fits the bill.”
The Steelers closed out their re-draft by selecting Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (No. 82) and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (No. 111). Providing Bridgewater with protection and big target in the passing game.
It is hard to disagree with the Fitzpatrick, Schwartz and Metcalf picks, but the Bridgewater pick appears to be a reach. Christian McCaffrey, Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield were all younger options still on the board.
The first actual Steelers player to go off the board was outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who went 42nd-overall to the New England Patriots. Fitzpatrick was taken five picks later.
Just two other Steelers players were selected, both in the third round. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was taken at No. 73 by the Jaguars, while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went at No. 91 to Seattle.
It was no surprise at all who went first-overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, current Super Bowl MVP and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Who was Mr. Irrelevant? Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett, who also hypothetically became a Bengal.
NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt
One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.
Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.
Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.
For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.
.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021
Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.
NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum
The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.
The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”
Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.
Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.
Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.
Report: 2021 NFL Salary Cap Expected at $182-183 Million
The 2021 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $182 or $183 million, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
That is just slightly above the bare-minimum figure of $180 million agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA last week, and aligns with Steelers Now sources that predict the cap will fall between $180 and $185 million.
The Steelers are one of several teams that will be significantly over the salary cap, regardless of what figure is.
According to Pro Football Talk, those teams have been lobbying to increase the 2021 salary cap at the expense of future years to minimize the impact the pandemic has had on NFL operations.
Doing so would essentially amount to an interest-free loan given by the owners to the players, something that some owners have balked at.
That final figure could still be impacted by the league signing new television contracts for the 2022 season before the salary cap is finalized, which is expected some time in March.
The new league year starts on March 17, which is the day that all teams must be under the new salary cap.