Each day between now and post-Super Bowl Monday, we’ll roll out a get-to-the-point offseason plan for one NFL team. Today, the Steelers; tomorrow, the 49ers. After that, we’ll see. Here’s our three-point plan for Pittsburgh:
1. Make Le’Veon Bell whole – physically and financially
Moments after the Steelers were eliminated from the postseason, injured running back Le’Veon Bell offered up some words of encouragement to the fan base, via his Twitter account: “We’ll be back, don’t even trip…still SteelerNation all day,” Bell wrote. Though the Steelers were bolstered by the veteran play of DeAngelo Williams and witnessed the emergence of Fitzgerald Toussaint, the priority of the offseason should be making sure Bell returns to full strength. Bell, who tore his MCL in November, is one of the most dynamic players in the league when he’s 100 percent. Coming into a contract season, the soon-to-be 24-year-old should be treated like a franchise centerpiece – maybe that means a contract extension.
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2. Set a new course at cornerback
Gay is one of a few cornerbacks the Steelers will have to make tough decisions on.
Pittsburgh’s secondary exceeded expectations this season but was still one of the biggest weaknesses on the team. No one said replacing Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu in the same season was going to be easy. Pittsburgh invested two draft picks (second-rounder Senquez Golson and fourth-rounder Doran Grant) in cornerbacks last offseason and will need each player to emerge in Year 2. Golson, of course, was out for the entire season with a shoulder injury. Mike Tomlin began his NFL career as a defensive backs coach. With starters William Gay and Antwon Blake and nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin set to test free agency, Tomlin and the front office will be eager to address the situation.
3. Find a quality backup quarterback
Jones may not be the ideal backup for Roethlisberger, who tends to get dinged up.
Fortunately for the city of Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest competitors in the league. The veteran quarterback plays through all types of injuries, but the Steelers would be wise to get some help behind No. 7. That’s much easier said than done, but having the right backup could make or break a season. Landry Jones continues to be a work in progress, and Mike Vick was signed for only this season. Roethlisberger missed nearly a month with an ankle injury and had to be rushed back into action. Some people around the league expect general manager Kevin Colbert to select a quarterback higher than expected in this year’s draft.