2018 was a rather dysfunctional year for the Steelers, to say the least, and 2019 has started with more questions than answers. There are undoubtedly many talented players but we’re now nearly a month into the New Year, and it remains as unclear as ever whether or not things are really moving in the right direction.
Bridging the Gap
Two of those questions come in the form of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. They seem destined to leave but what the Steelers look for in return is another issue entirely. In terms of replacing them, the Steelers coaching staff have much to ponder, especially when it comes to figuring out how much attention to lend the draft versus the trade opportunities that arise.
Brown, in particular, has generated a lot of noise in the trade rumor mill but a namesake from Oklahoma State could well end up being his replacement in Pittsburgh. On the face of it, Marquise Brown has every chance of making a few headlines in the draft. He has been one of Oklahoma’s top offensive talents and will be highly sought after:
Antonio Brown had over 100 receiving yards on six occasions in the 2018 season and he is no doubt capable of replicating his college form as a pro: Indeed, without Marquise Brown’s boundless energy, Oklahoma’s price within American football odds can only lengthen, which is as sure a sign of his skill as anything. Given his running stats, the Steelers could do a lot worse than court his services but, where the whole draft itself is concerned, fixing the defense remains an obvious priority, by draft or trade.
Contract issues trump draft rumors
In the immediacy though, the contract situation affecting key players, especially ‘Big Ben’. The QB is still going to be able to command a lot of money and the Steelers will have to take a gamble on how long he is going to keep playing.
Meanwhile, on paper, head coach Mike Tomlin has two years remaining as of January 2019, and Art Rooney hardly seems in a rush to extend his own contract. Despite not reaching the playoffs, the Steelers were still able to win nine games and it wasn’t a disastrous season but it was one that fell below expectations. Stick rather than twist is advisable for both men.
From his rookie days, Ben Roethlisberger has always been larger than life.
No Publicity Better Than Bad Publicity
Above all else, the Steelers need to stop dominating the headlines for the wrong reasons. There can be no doubt that it has had a negative impact on the team, not only due to missing talent but also due to the fractions in team spirit that it inevitably causes. Ultimately, what the Steelers need is a clear plan forward and, if that means losing both Bell and Brown, then so be it.
If the right decisions are made, then the 2019 season could be a great one for the Steelers – at least in comparison to 2018. A lot of big decisions have yet to be made though, and all of this rests on the shoulders of the Steelers hierarchy.
The respective likelihoods for triumph and disaster are, for now, in equal measure.
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