While no offseason in Pittsburgh is dull, the Steelers' current offseason promises to be one of the most interesting in recent memory. The main story during the infancy of this retooling period was the future of Ben Roethlisberger, who will return to Pittsburgh in 2021 after agreeing to a restructured contract.
And Big Ben will also have one of his key weapons returning as well, with JuJu Smith-Schuster heading back to the Steel City on a team-friendly, one-year, $8 million deal. While Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster are back, there are still several unanswered questions surrounding the 2021 Steelers. Will the team re-sign James Conner. Will Pittsburgh spend its first-round pick on a running back for just the fourth time since 1982? Those and other pressing questions will be answered over the next several months, as the Steelers try to piece together a roster that is good enough to compete with the Browns, Ravens and Bengals in a competitive AFC North division.
Speaking of the AFC North, the Steelers won the division last season for the fist time since 2017. But after an 11-0 start, injures, dropped passes and a 32nd-ranked rushing attacked all contributed to the Steelers winning just one out of their last four games. In the AFC wild-card round, the Steelers trailed 28-0 before ultimately falling short against the Browns, 48-37. The loss was the final game for longtime Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who joins fellow former center Dermontti Dawson as two of Pittsburgh's best players who did not win a Super Bowl. The Steelers are surely looking to avoid a similar ending in 2021.
This is your one-stop destination for everything involving the Steelers' 2021 offseason. Over the next several months, we'll update this story with all prevalent information regarding the Steelers. Those updates will include schedule announcements, player transactions, draft news, and other relevant information.
Key upcoming dates
- April 29-May 1: 2021 NFL Draft.
- May 12: Release of 17-game regular season schedule
Unrestricted in-house free agents
OLB Bud Dupree -- signed with the Titans
ILB Avery Williamson
LT Alejandro Villanueva
RT Matt Feiler -- signed with the Chargers
CB Mike Hilton -- signed with the Bengals
DE Tyson Alualu -- signed with Jaguars
OT Zach Banner -- re-signed with Steelers
DE Cassius Marsh -- re-signed with Steelers
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster -- re-signed with Steelers
FS Sean Davis -- signed with the Colts
P Jordan Berry -- re-signed with Steelers
OLB Jayrone Elliott
DT Chris Wormley -- re-signed with Steelers
FS Jordan Dangerfield
G Danny Isidora
CB Cameron Sutton -- re-signed with Steelers
RB James Conner -- signed with the Cardinals
WR Ray-Ray McCloud -- re-signed with Steelers
OT Jerald Hawkins
QB Joshua Dobbs -- re-signed with Steelers
S Marcus Allen -- re-signed with Steelers
OLB Ola Adeniyi -- signed with Titans
ILB Robert Spillane -- re-signed with Steelers
C J.C. Hassenauer -- re-signed with Steelers
Notable free agents signings from other teams
C/G B.J. Finney
OL Joe Haeg
2021 NFL Draft picks
The team used their first draft pick to select former Alabama running back Najee Harris. The 2020 Doak Walker Award winner, Harris is the first Steelers running back selected in the first round since 2008. The Steelers used their second draft pick to select Pat Freiermuth, Penn State's all-time career leader in receiving touchdowns by a tight end. With the 87th pick, the Steelers selected Kendrick Green, who saw time at both guard as well center during his time at Illinois.
Here's a look at all of Pittsburgh's selections at the 2021 NFL Draft:
- Round 1, 24th overall pick: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
- Round 2, 55th overall pick: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
- Round 3, 87th overall pick: OG Kendrick Green, Illinois
- Round 4, 128th overall pick: DT Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M
- Round 4, 140th overall pick: ILB Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M
- Round 5, 156th overall pick: DE Isaiahh Loudermilk, Wisconsin
- Round 6, 216th overall pick: LB Quincy Roche, Miami
- Round 7, 245th overall pick: S Trey Norwood, Oklahoma
- Round 7, 254th overall pick: P Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech
Rumors, reports and updates
April 27: The Steelers picked up safety Minkah Fitzpatrick's fifth-year option. A two-time All-Pro, Fitzpatrick is now signed through the 2022 season.
April 20: Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have reached a three-year contract extension. Tomlin, the third-winningest coach in franchise history, is now signed through the 2024 season.
April 15: Pittsburgh re-signed inside linebacker Vince Williams after releasing him earlier this offseason. During his first 121 games with the Steelers (which included 69 starts), Williams tallied 20.6 sacks that included a career-high eight sacks in 2017.
April 1: Veteran defensive lineman Tyson Alualu resigned with the Steelers after initially coming to terms with the Jaguars.
March 24: Robert Spillane signed a one-year deal to remain with the Steelers. Spillane played well in seven starts (in relief of Devin Bush) before an injury prematurely ended his 2020 season. Earlier in the day, tight end Eric Ebron reportedly agreed to a contract restructure, giving the Steelers about $3.9 million more in cap space.
March 23: Pittsburgh released cornerback Steven Nelson after reportedly granting him permission to seek a trade. The Steelers saved $8.25 million in cap space by releasing Nelson, who was two years into a three-year, $25.5 million contract.
March 19: JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steelers came to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal. Smith-Schuster reportedly turned down a multiyear offer from the Eagles. The Ravens also made a push to sign the former Pro Bowl receiver.
March 16: The Steelers made a surprising move when they released veteran linebacker Vince Williams. A former sixth-round pick, Williams started in 69 of his 121 regular season games with the Steelers. The move saved the Steelers $4 million in cap space. On the same day the Steelers released Williams, Bud Dupree came to terms with the Titans on a reported five-year, $85 million deal.
March 12: With a week before the start of free agency, the Steelers re-signed receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, linebacker Marcus Allen, and offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer. The team also signed offensive lineman B.J. Finney, who was recently released by the Bengals. Finney spent his first five seasons with the Steelers before signing with the Seahawks last offseason.
March 10: The Steelers received one compensatory pick for the 2021 draft. Pittsburgh was given the 141st pick in the draft.
March 9: Pittsburgh did not place the franchise tag on Bud Dupree. The Steelers have until March 17 to sign Dupree to a longterm deal before he would become an unrestricted free agent.
March 4: Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have come to terms on a new contract for the 2021 season. The new contract will pay Roethlisberger $14 million for the '21 season, a $5 million payout. The move shaves off more than $15 million on the Steelers' 2021 salary cap.
Feb. 22: The Steelers restructured Cam Heyward's contract, creating about $7 million in salary cap space. The perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle will still receive $10.5 million for the 2021 season, but his roster bonus and base salary were converted into a signing bonus, which created the additional cap space.