What's Next? Do Steelers Add Malik Hooker or Trade for Xavien Howard?

After signing Melvin Ingram, it doesn't feel like the Pittsburgh Steelers are done adding players.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have not been shy this offseason in filling depth needs with major free agent signings. 

First, it was Trai Turner replacing David DeCastro at right guard. Then, it was Melvin Ingram signing a one-year, $4 million deal to play with T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. But it doesn't feel like the action is over yet. 

The Steelers have roughly $10 million in available cap space after the Ingram signing. Some believe that money will be used to bring in safety Malik Hooker, while others hope the Miami Dolphins send another Pro Bowl defensive back to Pittsburgh. 

Also, remember, the Steelers still need to sign Kendrick Green to his rookie contract. That deal will sit around four-years, $4.8 million. 

So, what's more realistic? Or are either realistic? The simple answer is yes. 

The Steelers could quickly go off and sign Hooker to boost their safety depth and probably add a hometown player for a cheaper deal. Hooker, the Colts' first-round pick in 2017, has plenty left in the tank but plenty left to prove. 

After four years without a 16-gam season, the Colts decided to let Hooker walk in free agency. It's now July, and he's still on the open market looking for a home. 

Steelers secondary coach Teryl Austin mentioned during minicamp how he likes the team's young depth, including rookie Tre Norwood, who seems to be the biggest reason for Pittsburgh not to sign Hooker. 

"The big test for him is once we put on pads," Austin said. "It's a question of how fast he will move and how he will hold up because he's not a super big guy. But if he can handle it and hold up the tackling aspect of it, I think he's got a chance to be a really good player."

Hooker could be on the back-burner until the team sees what Norwood does in pads and how well guys like Miles Killebrew, Lamont Wade and Arthur Maulet adjust to the backfield. 

Don't rule out Hooker signing; just don't expect it to happen right away. 

Then, there's Xavien Howard. The Dolphins already shipped Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers for a first-round pick that turned into a two-time First-Team All-Pro selection. No one seems to be real upset about losing that "top 10 pick." 

So, why not do it again? The Steelers need a nickelback to work with Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton, but if there's none that meet the standard, adding a First-Team All-Pro outside corner isn't a bad option. 

The Steelers somehow found themselves with cap space available, and maybe they're looking to make a splash - or a bigger splash. 

There are also some cryptic tweets floating around out there. Terrance Gavin, Howard's teammate in Miami, seems to know something the rest of us don't - and he's excited to have that news to himself. 

Could it mean he's spoken to his former teammate and knows the Steelers are in talks with the Dolphins? Could it mean something totally different or maybe nothing at all? Everything is a possibility. 

This one is confusing. It makes complete sense for the Steelers to go out and trade for Howard, push Sutton into a nickel role and have an all-star lineup at cornerback. 

It also makes complete sense to give Sutton the job on the outside, like promised, test out Antoine Brooks Jr. and Maulet on the inside and let James Pierre work as the backup. 

Clearly, the first sounds better than the second, but the Steelers aren't always into what looks best on paper. 

This is also another move that could require some waiting, but maybe not much. If Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert decide they don't feel confident in their group of cornerbacks a few days into training camp, they might make some phone calls. 

Giving undrafted players and sixth-round picks extra chances doesn't seem like the best idea for a team trying to race the clock on their quarterback and win a Super Bowl. 

A few months ago, trading for Howard sounded pretty far-fetched. A few weeks ago, it still sounded doubtful. Today, it feels like the Steelers are trying to do whatever's needed to put this team in contention for a Lombardi.

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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