Weiss grades the Steelers offseason

Aidan Weiss | Staff Writer

The Steelers went into the offseason needing changes. General Manager Omar Khan delivered. Here are the grades for the key moves.

Hiring Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith: B

I don’t know what to make of this move. On the one hand, Smith comes to Pittsburgh after being fired from Atlanta’s head coaching position where he led an embarrassingly poor offense. Most frighteningly, he wasted the talents of Kyle Pitts and Bijan Robinson, a similar criticism levied on Matt Canada last season. On the other hand, he made Ryan Tannehill look good in his last offensive coordinator stint in Tennessee, which deserves some type of award. The B is a placeholder grade, but nobody will know until the offense either performs or flops.

Signing quarterback Russell Wilson: A-

Steelers Country, let’s weld. Don’t get it twisted, Russell Wilson was horrible in Denver. However, the Steelers are hoping for a bounce back from the former Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion. The $1.2 million contract makes it a low-risk investment. If it doesn’t work out, they got a fun new backup to replace him anyway.

Trading for quarterback Justin Fields: B+

The oft-rumored acquisition of the 2021 first-round pick became reality as the Steelers only gave up a 2025 sixth for him. Personally, I am not a fan of Fields; he’s fast and that’s about it. The flashes throwing the ball are too few and far between for a now fourth-year quarterback. However, the cheap price makes this a win regardless of what he does.

Trading Quarterback Kenny Pickett: A

Pickett showed off his elite competitive nature by throwing a hissy fit when the Steelers brought in Wilson. Apparently, he thought his elite rate of six touchdowns in 12 games last season was enough to make him an unchallenged starter next season. He was shipped off to be the unchallenging backup to Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. The Steelers also moved a pick from the fourth to the third round in this year’s draft and got back two sevenths next season. Fantastic move by the Khan Artist.

Signing Linebacker Patrick Queen: A+

Anything that hurts the Ravens is fantastic. Queen comes from Baltimore after a second-team All-Pro season and locks down the linebacker spot alongside Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. Queen is locked down for the next three and wreaks havoc on opponents.

Trading Wide Receiver Diontae Johnson for Cornerback Donte Jackson: C

The biggest disappointment in an otherwise stellar spring. Johnson’s attitude had been called into question, but only getting Jackson- in danger of getting cut by league-worst Carolina -and a sixth-round pick was not a great return. The lack of a corresponding receiver move suggests that we will see a receiver selected in the first three rounds of the draft.

Signing Safety DeShon Elliott: B+

Elliott comes from Miami after earlier stints in Detroit and Baltimore. After the release of Keanu Neal, more depth was needed. Elliott will likely slot in at strong safety, and his play will be crucial in ensuring that Minkah Fitzpatrick can go back to free safety and fulfill the lurker role that he is best at.

Re-signing Miles Killebrew: A-

In a move that did not register much attention, the Steelers brought back their star special teamer in Killebrew. Since he signed in Pittsburgh in 2021, Killebrew has blocked three punts. That would rank fourth among all NFL teams overall. An underrated move but a necessary one for the Steelers special teams unit.

Punter Cameron Johnston: B+

He’s not Pressley Harvin. That’s all it takes to improve from Harvin’s mediocre Steelers’ run. An all-around acquisition for the Khan Artist.

Re-signing Long Snapper Christian Kuntz: A+

An absolutely incredible signing. Getting a Duquesne legend for $1.2 million a year for three years provides stability for the franchise and the hometown kid. Also, guess who had more sacks in college, Kuntz or T.J. Watt? Only a real football fan would know that Kuntz had 30.5 to Watt’s 11.5.