What to do in house:
Lawrence Timmons ILB- I really thought that Timmons was on his way out this year, and while I like Vince Williams, and think he could very well start over Timmons, I feel like offering Timmons a modest two year, 10 million dollar contract. If he accepts, it keeps our inside a strength, even if Williams gets more looks in the future. If he wants more, that I would let him walk.
Jarvis Jones OLB- As much as I don't like him, I would offer him a two year, five million dollar contract. I doubt he would accept, so he's gone.
DeAngelo Williams RB- As good as he has been, he is old and is bound to regress soon. If he would take a one year, one million dollar deal, I would bring him back. No more though, as a rookie can easily take his spot.
James Harrison OLB- Same as Williams. We can't throw a lot of money at veterans.
Greg Warren LS- Vet minimum. Easy.
Le'Veon Bell RB- All things point to him getting franchised. This makes sense, and ideally, he will get a longer contract in worked out.
*Note: Any name not mentioned is gone. Meaning Wheaton and Jones are gone
**More Notes: Cockrell, Hubbard, Toussaint, Chickillo, Boswell, Fort, Grimble, and Mihalik all get their respective tenders.
Moving on, if I was in charge of this team, I would try my hardest to trade Mike Mitchell. I know the odds of this happening is pretty minute, but this is the way I see it. Davis played well, and his game is very similar to Mitchell's game (more of a run stopper/enforcer). In the near future, I would expect Davis to be far superior to Mitchell in terms of ability. What the Steelers need is a ballhawk to man the other safety spot. Throw in the fact that this safety class is deep, unloading Mitchell for say a 4th round pick to a team that needs an instant starter would make a lot of sense to me. Although it won't happen, for the sake of this argument, he gets traded.
With all the moves above, the Steelers would have roughly 12 million in cap space (5 million reserved for rookies). I wouldn't expect too many splash moves in FA, but a couple of smaller moves to build the roster makes sense.
Josh McCown QB- While he won't be the heir to Ben, he should be able to easily secure the backup spot on this team. Most would look to the draft to grab a QB, but this class is pretty weak at that position, while next years class is looking like it may be extremely deep. Getting McCown for two years would make sense, as he can backup Big Ben and we can draft the QB of the future next year.
Projected deal: Two year, eight Million dollar Contract
Knile Davis RB- Even with Williams resigning, it makes sense to grab a cheap back on the market. Davis is young and has shown good potential. Even if he just ends up being a camp hand, signing him to a minimum contract seems worth it.
Projected deal: One year, Vet Minimum Contract
Sterling Moore CB- It seems like every year, Moore gets some interest from the Steelers, but he always ends up signing elsewhere. While CB isn't a large need, signing Moore to a cheap one year deal that is incentive heavy. He should add depth and competition to all three starters.
Projected deal: One year, One Million dollar + Incentive contract
Heading into the draft, and considering everything that happened in this write-up, the biggest needs for the Steelers go as follows: OLB, S, CB, WR, TE, RB, QB, ILB. Looking at picks, the Steelers have all seven of their allotted picks, plus an extra 4th from the Mitchell trade (I know its not likely, but I'm having a little fun with this) and a projected 5th round comp. pick giving the Steelers a total of nine picks.
Round 1: Taco Charlton OLB- I would love to see the Steelers trade back into the early second here, but there is no way I'm going to try predicting that. If/When the Steelers stay at 30, the Steelers should have a lot of options to help the ailing pass rush. I like Charlton a lot, but there are so fringe prospects here that it is hard to say whom the Steelers will fall in love with. That, in turn, is why we should trade back, as we can probably still land one of these players atop the second round while compiling more picks.
Round 2: Marcus Williams S- With Mitchell gone, the Steelers look to the second round to nab another safety. Williams has very sound coverage, has good hands, and seems pretty athletic. He will be able to complete with Golden/Dangerfield early on, and could very well surpass them like how Davis did. With Williams and Davis, the Steelers have a great thunder and lightning combo to patrol their secondary.
Round 3: Chidobe Awuzie CB- This was honestly a tie between him and King from Washington. While I like King's size and play-making ability, Awuzie just looks like a Steelers corner. He can play outside or slot, hits hard, and has shown a lot of potential in coverage. He won't be needed right away, but if Gay or Cockrell struggle, he could see extensive playing time. He has all the tools to develop into a solid starter.
Round 4 (From Mitchell): Chris Godwin WR- Godwin is a good but not great prospect. His 40 time should be pretty average, his size is pretty average, and his production was average. He should benefit from good QB play while also adding good depth in case some of the other receivers on the roster don't pan out.
Round 4: Jake Butt TE: This is the second player from Michigan selected, and it could pay dividends. This TE class is deep enough that a small injury caused Butt, a talented TE, to fall to the 4th. He has great hands and improved blocking. He would be a nice player to pair with James if Green doesn't pan out. On top of that, it gives Ben a big red zone threat.
Round 5: Devonte Fields OLB- Another pass rusher this early seems like a stretch, but the Steelers need to find a constant source of pass rush from its OLB's. Fields is a talented and gifted player, but some off the field concerns have caused him to drop. He is a boom or bust player but should be worth a 5th round pick.
Round 5c: Nathan Peterman QB: Peterman looks like a prime player that can be developed into a solid back-up. He should be able to step in and win a few games if needed, but as long as he develops into a decent #2, he should be worth the pick.
Round 6: James Conner RB- Back to back Pitt picks, and both should be good back-ups. Conner has a great story, plays pretty well, and should be in the mix to be the #2 back with DeAngelo and Karlos.
Round 7: Issac Rochell DE- To finish off the draft, a DE is taken for depth purposes. He will be someone to compete with Maxey and Walton