Which Players Can Help Big Ben Get Another Lombardi Trophy?
By: Euan Leith
The Pittsburgh Steelers stormed out to an 11-0 record at the beginning of the 2020 season and were among the midseason favorites to make a Super Bowl run. Ultimately, the team fell apart down the stretch with a 1-4 record and a Wild Card round exit to their division rival, the Cleveland Browns.
The organization is in a world of trouble with the salary cap for the upcoming season, and it is going to be extremely difficult for this franchise to reload and win back to back AFC North titles. Per overthecap.com, the team is already $30 million over the salary cap heading into free agency. With many of their current stars (Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster) running to the open market, Pittsburgh will need to get creative if they plan to maintain their Super Bowl-contending status heading into the 2021 season.
Leonard Fournette – RB
2020 team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
James Conner is a free agent and leaves Pittsburgh with a hole at running back. Although they drafted Anthony McFarland with a fourth-round pick last season, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring in a veteran as the former-Maryland back continues to adjust to the NFL.
Signing Fournette would’ve been a lot more manageable before Playoff Lenny took over the postseason and won a ring with Tampa Bay, but he can run and catch the check-down effectively and will only be 26 when the 2021 season kicks off.
Le’Veon Bell – RB
2020 team: Kansas City Chiefs
This would be quite the return to the scene of the crime story for the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell, but one that could make sense for both sides. Bell will be 29 by the time the season comes around, but his value has never been lower in NFL circles. He was cut by the Jets mid-season and then saw his role in Kansas City vanish in the playoffs.
He’s proven that he can flourish in this Pittsburgh offense, and maybe this can become an absence that makes the heart grow fonder situation. If Bell ever wants to return to a workhorse role in the NFL, Pittsburgh would be a fine place to look.
Kelvin Beachum – T
2020 team: Arizona Cardinals
Another reunion for the Steelers and a former player could come in the shape of Kelvin Beachum. A seventh-round draft choice in the 2012 draft, the 31-year old played for four seasons in the black and yellow.
With their cap situation extremely tight this year, they will likely lose Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler to the open market. This is on top of potentially losing Maurkice Pouncey to retirement. Bringing in a veteran on a cheap contract that is familiar with their scheme and organization should be a priority for the Steelers over the coming weeks.
Mitchell Trubisky – QB
2020 team: Chicago Bears
Getting Trubisky to Pittsburgh would be the 2021 version of Jameis Winston with the New Orleans Saints. A former first-round quarterback jettisoned by the team that drafted him and is now looking to regain his value on a one-year deal. It would give Trubisky an opportunity to learn from a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback without the pressure of leading a franchise.
Retirement whispers have circled Ben Roethlisberger for a couple of seasons. Having someone in house to take over for the six-time Pro Bowler would bring some smoothness to the transition process of losing one of the franchise’s greatest quarterbacks.