PITTSBURGH -- The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft will be pivotal in the build of the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line.
On Wednesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert joined a conference call with reporters to discuss a wide range of topics. As he prepares to build this team for the 2021 season, there's a clear concern on how much the Steelers can do under a tight salary cap situation.
One major issue that needs to be addressed is the offensive line. The Steelers will lose Maurkice Pouncey (retirement) and possibly Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva as their contracts expire on March 17.
"I don't know where the free agency part will go for both Matt and Al," Colbert said. "We know Maurkice won't be back with us. How that comes together, it will be ongoing."
The GM gave insight into where the Steelers are considering going when it comes to putting together a starting offensive line for next season. With an estimated $15 million to create before they break even in cap space, Colbert said Pittsburgh is looking at the NFL Draft to land prospects.
"The draft itself, it is stronger at the tackle position than it is at the interior," Colbert said. "Center and guard, traditionally, is not a very strong group. In any draft, the tackles are unusually deep this year. I think we can add players through the draft."
He did admit the Steelers will look to keep their players first, meaning Villanueva and Feiler will at least be spoken to when negotiations begin. However, it's a difficult situation to say resigning two offensive linemen who struggled in 2020 is a higher priority than names like Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Colbert also said the Steelers will look in free agency for answers to the offensive line. The team remains in the process of deciding the future of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who currently carries a $41.25 million cap hit into the season.
Colbert, along with Art Rooney II, was clear that Roethlisberger's return means he'll need to lower his cap hit for the season, freeing up cap space for the Steelers.
"Hopefully, there is a way we could try and figure out and do what's best for the organization and do what's best for Ben," Colbert said. "And hopefully, he will be able to do that and feel the same way we do. But there's a lot of work that needs to be done. Not only with Ben, but just with the whole unrestricted free agent class and our whole cap situation as well."
The Steelers have 24 players set to hit the open market this offseason.