Steelers offseason positional outlook: Safeties |

Steelers offseason positional outlook: Safeties

Chris Adamski

Editor’s note: This is Part 10 of a 12-part series breaking down the Pittsburgh Steelers at each position in the offseason. All salary cap information courtesy

Last offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers flooded their roster with new safeties. Now they are tasked with continuing to sort out all of it.

The Steelers turned over much of their safety position room after 2017, letting go Mike Mitchell, J.J. Wilcox and Robert Golden and bringing in veterans Morgan Burnett and Nat Berhe (free agency) and rookies Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen (draft picks). The results were mixed, and the Steelers begin ‘19 with questions about their future at the position.

The immediate future at the top of the depth chart seems relatively set: Edmunds was solid as a rookie strong safety, and Sean Davis transitioned nicely in his third season from in the box to the defense’s proverbial center fielder.

But with the Steelers, like many other NFL teams playing more three-safety sets, it is more important than ever to have a third and fourth safety who are reliable. Also, a decision needs to be made about the longterm future of Davis, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract and is eligible for an extension.

Davis hasn’t necessarily been a star since he was drafted in the second round in 2016, but he hasn’t been a liability, either. At 25 years old with three-plus years in the defense, Davis profiles as the type of player the Steelers usually award with a second contract.

He has missed only one game in three years, and he has started games at three positions. Davis wears the “green dot” associated with play-calling/communication responsibilities on defense, and he suddenly has become of the secondary’s more veteran voices.

If the Steelers let Burnett go, Davis would trail only Joe Haden as the secondary’s longest-tenured NFL player. And if the Steelers cut ties with Artie Burns, he will be the defensive back who has been with the team the longest.

The challenge could be in agreeing to contract terms. But historically — with rare exception — the Steelers have kept virtually every free agent they have wanted to keep.

One player they probably won’t want to keep another season is Burnett, a 10-year veteran who will cost $6.47 million if he is on the roster in 2019 but only $2.833 million if he is not. Now 30 years old and coming off a debut season with the Steelers in which he missed five games and was merely a subpackage player, it is likely the Steelers would prefer the cap space.

A special teamer who missed the final 12 games on injured reserve, Berhe is also an unrestricted free agent who probably won’t be back. Longtime Steeler Jordan Dangerfield, who first was signed by the team more than five years ago, will be back after assuming an increased defensive role in 2018.

A fifth-round pick who stayed on the 53-man roster all season, Marcus Allen is a player to whom the Steelers gave a virtual redshirt. Is he the answer to replace Burnett as a de facto No. 3 safety? Another Penn State alum, Malik Golden, is another possibility at safety (or special teamer) in 2019 after he missed ‘18 because of a torn ACL.

The Steelers, to some degree, will look externally to add to their safety group — but probably not as much as they did last offseason.

Up Next: Cornerbacks


Offseason outlook: Safeties


• Sean Davis, 1 year left on contract, $1.3 million cap hit for 2019

• Terrell Edmunds, 3 years left on contract, $2.43 million cap hit for 2019

• Morgan Burnett, 2 years left on contract, $6.47 million cap hit for 2019

• Marcus Allen, 3 years left on contract, $643,159 cap hit for 2019

• Malik Golden, injured reserve


Free agents

• Jordan Dangerfield, exclusive rights, $555,000 cap hit in 2018

• Nat Berhe, unrestricted, $630,000 cap hit in 2018

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.