Steelers doing Steeler things, not afraid of key contributors hitting free agency


The Pittsburgh Steelers are not opening up negotiations with impending free agents with the 2020 season now commencing.

Prior to the start of the 2020 NFL regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to reach an agreement with edge rusher Cameron Heyward on a four-year contract extension. That left many wondering if the Steelers were going to extend any other impending free agents before they hit the open market. Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers are not going to extend any other players on the roster with the 2020 regular season commencing because that’s simply not what they do. So, that means Pittsburgh won’t negotiate with the likes of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and running back James Conner this season.

With season opener hours away, expectation is Steelers aren’t extending many key 2021 free agents right now. Team doesn’t negotiate in-season, so Al Villanueva, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, others headed to free agency — unless PIT can stop them first.

While Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert won’t work on contract negotiations in-season, that doesn’t necessarily mean that any of the aforementioned players are immediately going to hit free agency. Rather, Colbert will wait until the season reaches its conclusion before the start of the 2021 league year. However, that does leave the Steelers at risk of losing out on one or more of these athletes.

Villanueva will be one of the top offensive tackles available via free agency next year. However, the majority of attention will likely be given to Trent Williams, who’s set to hit the open market next year, as the San Francisco 49ers agreed that they can’t place the franchise tag on him prior to the start of the new league year. Even so, he’ll gain plenty of attention at the age of 32.

Smith-Schuster, on the other hand, will be among the top available options at his position. Last season, the wideout dealt with injury issues while also receiving extra attention from defensive backs after Antonio Brown’s tumultuous exit from the Steel City. In 12 games last season, Smith-Schuster caught 42-of-70 targets for 552 yards and three touchdowns. In 2020, the wideout will look to put up better numbers, especially since the offense added Eric Ebron and Chase Claypool.

As for Conner, he’ll be an interesting case. After an extremely impressive 2018 season, he couldn’t match the production last year, mostly due to a multitude of injuries. Conner only played in 10 games, and he rushed for 464 yards and four touchdowns on 116 carries. The key to a new contract will be if Conner can put up better numbers and proves to be healthy for the whole season.

With Colbert’s office doors closed for the remainder of the season, it’s up to the players to prove their worth this year. If they succeed, they’ll be raking in the money from the Steelers or one of the other 31 teams in the league.

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Actu monde – US – Steelers doing Steeler things, not afraid of key contributors hitting free agency