Steelers Archrival Snagged Targeted Player, Called ‘Giant Regret’

Mike Tomlin looks on from the sideline.

During the 44-pick lull between defensive lineman Keeanu Benton and tight end Darnell Washington — a result of the Pittsburgh Steelers trading back with the Panthers in the 2023 NFL draft — the archrival Baltimore Ravens snagged inside linebacker Trenton Simpson.

Mike Tomlin had a private dinner with Simpson while in South Carolina for Clemson’s Pro Day. The Steelers also showed a good deal of interest in him during the NFL Combine, leading many to believe the inside linebacker was on their radar. Pittsburgh lost Devin Bush to free agency and Myles Jack still remains on the market.

This scenario harkens back to when the Steelers passed on center Creed Humphrey, who went on to win two Super Bowl rings with the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s a franchise center, potentially Hall of Fame-bound, while Pittsburgh is still without a long-term replacement for the retired Maurkice Pouncey. Fans were outraged, just as they are with overlooking Simpson, only what’s more upsetting is that he went to the archrival Ravens.

93.7 The Fan’s Chris Mack tweeted after the draft, “I fear Trenton Simpson ending up in Baltimore when the Steelers left him out there so they could nab a 4th Round pick will end up being a giant regret.”

As with Humphrey, we won’t know if passing on Simpson to trade back was a “giant regret” or not, until he gets a full season in. But if he does have the makings of a career Raven, there may be some regret.

Instead of going with the more significant position of need, the Steelers grabbed tight end Pat Freiermuth. His potential has yet to be reached being on the receiving end of Ben Roethlisberger on his last leg in 2021 and Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett in his second year. But it’s possible that Freiermuth goes elsewhere after a contract or two, whereas Humphrey is a Kansas City stalwart.

Pittsburgh will get an up-close look at the player they passed on in Week 5 when the Ravens come into Acrisure Stadium on October 8, 2023.

Kwon Alexander Leaves Steelers Visit Without Contract

Unsurprisingly, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still on the hunt for inside linebackers this offseason. So when ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news on May 15 that Pittsburgh was hosting veteran inside linebacker Kwon Alexander for a visit, fans got all kinds of riled up.

May 15 came and went without a word of an agreement between the two parties. It’s never a good sign if a player leaves without having signed a contract.

“I do think [inside linebacker] is a priority for them,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo said on the North Shore Drive podcast. “I think they will have another veteran in here before the season starts and I think there are some guys still out there who might be worth investigating.”

The Steelers didn’t entirely ignore the deficiency. General manager Omar “Khan Artist” Khan brought in two off-ball linebackers in free agency, but it remains a questionable position for Pittsburgh.

Former Washington Commander team captain Cole Holcomb, the first linebacker brought in, had foot surgery in December 2022 and will likely be handled with kid gloves. Holcomb, 26, missed the final 10 games of the season after having started 48 of 50 games since his 2019 rookie season. He’ll likely be limited during the start of organized team activities (OTAs), which begin Monday, May 23.

Elandon Roberts, the second free agent linebacker signed, could see the bulk of the reps to start offseason practices. The addition of Holcomb and Roberts isn’t a good sign for Mark Robinson, taken with the 225th pick of the 2022 NFL draft. I suppose when you’re a seventh-rounder, chances are slim to have a successful career, but it was thought he’d be stepping in for Bush or Jack after their departures. It’s still early, though. He could make a serious case for himself during camp competitions.