Saturday Night Open Thread

Aerial Views Of Montreal
Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I’m Back Edition

We returned from what will qualify as our “big vacation” this year, last Sunday afternoon. Both with a bad cold, which we still are suffering.

We headed to Montréal after a flight rescheduled from, from Monday at 9:20am to Sunday 11:40pm. We bit the bullet and took the red eye. Unfortunately, that flight didn’t arrive on time, and we finally left at about 1:40pm. That naturally made us miss our connecting flight in Toronto, which meant 4 more hours in an airport, and that flight left around 45 minutes late. There was something good of note on the trip, I slept on the plane, which I’ve never been able to do before. I did play soccer that morning, and between that and the delay, it probably was inevitable.

We arrived in the early afternoon to the hotel my conference was at and took a tour around Old Town before the reception that evening, then packed it in for the night. We thoroughly toured Old Town for a few days hit China Town then went to the Olympic Village and the Biosphere, and Insectarium, I recommend both. Then headed to a nearby brewery, not our first, or last, and ran across a food festival. Festivals were a common sight in Montréal.

We toured a cool market in Little Italy, then headed again to catch a beer, and came across a car show, which lead us to a different brewery.

We headed for Maine the next day and stayed south of Portland in a beach town called Old Orchard Beach, very common touristy beach town, that was deserted due to a sour weather report. The rain never showed, the weather was pictured perfect, and Mrs. SNW checked eating lobster on a dock in Maine off her bucket list.

We stayed 3 nights and headed to Saratoga Springs to visit friends for 3 nights, then back to Montréal for a night, where we ran into another festival, in Little Portugal, called Mural. They were painting murals in all the alleys. There was food, music, crafts, the works. We walked for as long as we could with limited time and never came close to the west end of the event.

The next day was traveling home day, and again I slept on the plane.

  1. Any big vacation plans?
  2. We’ve been running into festivals, what was your best accidental find on a vacation?
  3. If we put you in the negotiations for the players during the 18 game season negotiations what are the top five things you insist the players get?

Minkah Fitzpatrick gets Hallmark “Legends” ornament

16th Steelers Keepsake ornament goes on sale in July

Since 2007, Hallmark has been helping Pittsburgh Steelers fans add much-needed black and gold to our evergreen Christmas trees. It’s a Steelers honor rarer than the Hall of Fame: a Keepsake ornament.

Over the year, the greeting card company has made 15 figures, in the likeness of 12 Pittsburgh players (Roethlisberger has three, Polamalu has two). This summer, we’re getting our 16th. A Minkah Fitzpatrick ornament will soon go on sale.

The newest line of “Football Legends” hits stores on July 13th. This wave includes Fitzpatrick, Stefon Diggs, Travis Kielce, and Davante Adams. Here are the details from Hallmark’s website

Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere will rush, pass, and do whatever it takes to get their hands on this dynamic Christmas tree ornament featuring their star safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick, in an action pose ready to make another impressive tackle or interception down the field.

  • Key Features: 30th in the Football Legends Keepsake Ornament series.
  • Additional Details: Plastic Christmas ornament features hanger attachment.
  • Includes: One 2024 Keepsake Ornament in gift box for easy gift giving, preservation and storage.
  • Approx. Size in Inches: 2.81 x 4.81 x 3.5

Last year’s ornament was Najee Harris. 2022 gave us TJ Watt. If you want to start a collection, catch up on all the ornaments from years past.

Steelers’ Cam Heyward: ‘I ain’t going to Cleveland’

Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (97) of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes the field before the game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium on December 07, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Heyward took to Twitter/X to cool down a rumor that got him in hot water with fans last week.

Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward caused some controversy last week with a misinterpreted quote. He had seemed to hint he was open to leaving the Steelers for the rival Cleveland Browns amidst his ongoing contract dispute with Pittsburgh.

Here’s the full excerpt from what started it: Mark Kaboly’s June 14 article with The Athletic.

Heyward will worry about his future next year. He’s not counting out signing with the Steelers before this season or even before free agency next year. But for the first time, he’s contemplating what it might be like to wear colors other than black and gold.

Can you imagine Heyward in the orange and brown of the Cleveland Browns? It might seem sacrilegious, but never say never.

“I still have family in Cleveland … my wife is from Cleveland,” Heyward said. “We will see. I am not trying to think about all that right now.”

The quote did not sit well with Steelers fans, to say the least. That’s not exactly a surprise, as the Browns are perhaps the Steelers’ most despised rival.

Kaboly later clarified on The Fan Morning Show that Heyward was just joking.

Heyward later addressed the issue himself when replying to fans on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Bro I ain’t going to Cleveland. My wife about threw up when she saw the report. It was a joke in passing,” he posted.

A few days earlier he had responded to another fan who had brought up the topic, replying with a dismissive GIF.

It seems that fans don’t need to worry about Heyward leaving Pittsburgh for Cleveland anytime soon. However, he has maintained that he’ll be playing in 2025 and beyond — even if the Steelers don’t bring him back.

Still, the defensive captain has made a point that he wants to remain a Steeler for his entire career.

Steelers claim former Falcons DT

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Willington Previlon (94) warms up during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp on August 07, 2022 at the AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Willington Previlon is a Pittsburgh Steeler.

The Steelers have filled their remaining roster spot, claiming defensive tackle Willington Previlon off of waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

Previlon was an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers in 2020. In his final year in college, he recorded 31 total tackles and a sack as a 6’5, 295-pound defender.

Previlion has bounced around the league during his career, with his latest stint being with the Falcons. He has yet to make an appearance in an NFL game.

The signing gives the Steelers some additional defensive line depth heading into training camp. Previlion is the Steelers’ second addition today, with the first being the signing of wide receiver Jacob Copeland.

The moves fill the roster spots the Steelers had open following the releases of safety Trenton Thompson and wide receiver Denzel Mims. It appears the Brandon Aiyuk trade rumors will calm down for the time being.

Fans will get the first glimpse of the Steelers’ 90-man roster in action on August 9 as the Steelers take on the Houston Texans in their first preseason game of 2024.

Former Broncos OL slams Steelers QB Russell Wilson

Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The former Bronco had a lot to say

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson has faced a lot of criticism over the last two seasons for how his stint with the Denver Broncos went.

After being traded to Denver from the Seattle Seahawks, Wilson signed a five-year, $245 million extension that he didn’t play a down on because he was released after two seasons.

Speaking on his podcast, The Stinkin Truth, three-time Super Bowl champion, and former Denver Broncos offensive lineman

“I think when you’re delusional, you think you can point the finger at eight million different places that say, ‘This is why this happened. This is why,’” Schlereth said. “That toxic positivity and surrounding yourself with people that basically [tell you] ‘It’s not your fault man.’ I mean, that’s not derogatory, that’s just a fact.”

This isn’t the first time the former Pro Bowler has given his thoughts on Wilson. Back in March, Schlereth bashed Wilson during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.

“The way Russ played, the way he’s played the last couple years, he’s diminished,” Schlereth said. “He doesn’t throw the ball in the middle of the football field, he doesn’t anticipate throws. You can sit here and tell me all day long 26 TDs, eight interceptions – I’ll tell you garbage numbers. The things he does, he’s just not good enough anymore.”

Wilson will surely have a ton of doubters ahead of this season. However, with a terrific defense and an offense that is better suited for his skill set, he is more than equipped to shut them up.

Friday Happy Hour Open Thread: Come chat with us!

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers look on during Day 1 of the NFL Draft on April 25, 2024 at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza in Detroit, MI.
Photo by John Smolek/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello BTSC friends!

Got a busy weekend ahead here! Tonight, back-to-back adult kickball games, then driving an hour to pick up my sister-in-law from the airport, in town visiting from Florida. We’ve lined up a whole

Anyhoo, without further ado: whatcha eating, whatcha drinking? Let’s get chatting!

  • We’ll be taking my sister-in-law all around the town to some of our favorite spots for food and drinks through the duration of her visit. If you’re hosting out-of-town guests, do you have a “staple” place you take them that you feel is a must-visit location in your town? If so, what is it if you feel comfortable sharing, or if you’re not, just tell us what makes that place special.
  • New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson received a four-year, $36 million contract ($9 million average annual value) despite having played just 12 games in two of his three seasons, only once exceeding 900 scrimmage yards, and never scoring more than six touchdowns. Does seeing his price tag give you any regrets in terms of the Steelers passing on Najee Harris’ fifth year option (valued at $6.79 million for 2025)?
  • What NFL statistic is MOST OVERRATED from a player evaluation standpoint?
  • If you could choose, would you rather the Steelers roster the No. 1 wide receiver in the league or the No. 1 cornerback in the league?
  • If you could guarantee the Steelers would win a Super Bowl in 2024 but they’d be doomed to finish dead last in the AFC North for the next 10 years to follow, would you do it?

Steelers bring back WR Jacob Copeland

NCAA Football: Maryland at Charlotte
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh continues to play musical chairs at receiver

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they’ve signed WR Jacob Copeland to a one-year contract. This comes on the heels of the release of WR Denzel Mims earlier this week.

Copeland spent time at both Maryland and Florida in his college career – and we’re all aware by now how much the Steelers like their Maryland prospects given the ties to Mike Tomlin. Tomlin’s son Dino Tomlin was on the Terrapins from 2019-to 2021.

It’s difficult to gauge how much the Steelers like Copeland, who will enter his second year after signing a UDFA contract with the Tennessee Titans last year. This is now his third stint with the black and gold. He signed a practice squad contract in September of last year and was released in early October. He rejoined the squad once more in late November and the team cut bait in early December. Hence the question about their attraction to the pass-catcher.

Mims’ release caused quite the stir around the Steel City, given the Steelers’ rumored interest in San Francisco 49ers star WR Brandon Aiyuk.

Copeland is now the 90th player on the roster, meaning that speculation should die relatively quickly. At least temporarily.

What are your thoughts on Copeland, and in your opinion does this change anything with Brandon Aiyuk? Let us know in the comments section!

Omar Khan Confirms Steelers Will Not Adjust Contract Negotiation Policy

In his second year as general manager of the Steelers, Omar Khan has made a number of moves to date in his tenure. More will be coming if deals are worked out before the start of the campaign, but the organization’s philosophy with respect to in-season negotiating will remain in place.

Pittsburgh has exclusively used the offseason to work out signings and extensions for years, and Khan’s succession of Kevin Colbert has resulted in a continuation of that approach. The Steelers are certainly not alone in the sense of imposing a deadline prior to the start of the regular season for agreements to be worked out, though Khan’s stance could lead to plenty of interesting financial situations ahead of free agency in 2025.

“I think it’s an awesome policy,” Khan said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan“That policy predates even before [Colbert] and I got here. Once we get into the season, I’m a believer it should be all focused on football. Obviously, there’s a business aspect to this, and that’s okay. That’s just part of it. But once we get into the season, it’s to focus on the season.”

Both of the Steelers’ top quarterbacks – veteran signing Russell Wilson and trade acquisition Justin Fields – are under contract for 2024. The team is open to working out new deals in both cases, but that will only take place after an evaluation of their respective performances this year. Unless extensions with other notable players are worked out in the coming weeks, they too will enter the campaign facing uncertain futures.

Amongst the Steelers’ pending free agent class is starting guard James Daniels. Once thought to be on the extension radar, he will not have a new deal in hand by the time the 2024 campaign starts. Tight end Pat Freiermuth is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and his value would be worth watching closely if he did not have an extension worked out in time for Week 1.

In addition to the uncertain futures of Wilson and Fields, D-line stalwart Cameron Heyward may not be in Pittsburgh beyond 2024. The latter’s contract situation is fluid, and team and player still have plenty of time to work out an agreement allowing him to finish his career as a Steeler. In neither Heyward’s case nor that of any other player will an exception to the in-season negotiating policy be made, though.

Steelers 2024 offensive stat projections

Predicting the stat lines for the Steelers’ offensive playmakers

Everyone else in the NFL media sphere seems to be doing predictions and projections of some sort, so I figured why not hop on the train and give my overall outlook on what I expect from the Steelers’ offense in 2024.

I’m adding a caveat, though – I’ll be doing two different quarterback projections; one where Russell Wilson plays all 17 games and one where Justin Fields takes over mid-season. Why? Well, both are entirely possible, and we’re all going to die one day so who could possibly care enough to get riled up about it (I’m sure someone will find a way).

Alright, let’s jump in

Quarterbacks: Part I

If Wilson plays all 17 games, it means he’s playing well and the offense is doing what’s needed to win games. I would still expect a Justin Fields package of some sort to be used for a handful of plays each game in more of a rushing capacity.

Final projections:

  • Russell Wilson: 3,791 yards, 25 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
  • Justin Fields: 101 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 452 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns

Quarterbacks: Part II

Now, if Wilson doesn’t become what the Steelers were hoping, they can hand the keys to Fields. If they do so, my guess is it would come after the Week 9 bye ahead of their matchup with the Washington Commanders. That would give Fields eight games to get things right for the offense.

Final projections:

  • Russell Wilson: 1,818 yards, 11 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
  • Justin Fields: 2,074 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 401 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns

Running backs

Najee Harris is in a contract year, and will be looking to make himself a lot of money in 2025. He’s coming off the best year of his career in terms of yards per carry, but that number will need to go up if he wants to see a Rhamondre Stevenson-type deal ($9 million per season).

Jaylen Warren will all but certainly be staying in Pittsburgh for the long-term future, and his ability as a runner and receiver will continue to make him one of the better dual-threat backs in the league today. I expect productive seasons from both Harris and Warren, but don’t be surprised if Warren is getting more of the lion’s share of touches by season’s end.

Final projections:

  • Najee Harris: 249 carries, 1,037 yards, 9 touchdowns, 21 catches, 146 yards,
  • Jaylen Warren: 160 carries, 834 yards, 5 touchdowns, 47 catches, 373 yards, 1 touchdown

Depending on how much Fields plays and they utilize him in the run game, these will vary.

Wide receivers/Tight ends

While I still expect the Steelers to add another receiver to play on the outside, right now we’ll just have to go with who they have. Is it perfect? Far from it. Could they make it work? Sure. Expect George Pickens to have a large increase in targets, especially downfield on play action deep balls. Pat Freiermuth may be in for a career-year, as well.

Final projections:

  • George Pickens: 78 catches, 1,296 yards, 9 touchdowns
  • Pat Freiermuth: 67 catches, 683 yards, 6 touchdowns
  • Roman Wilson: 45 catches, 559 yards, 4 touchdowns
  • Calvin Austin: 34 catches, 458 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Darnell Washington: 25 catches, 210 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Van Jefferson: 14 catches, 167 yards, 1 touchdown

Steelers players react to potential 18-game NFL season: ‘All they care about is making money’

DeShon Elliott #21 of the Miami Dolphins lines up during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock Stadium on December 11, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor talked to the Steelers locker room about the NFL potentially adding another game to the season.

Could the NFL expand to an 18-game regular season? It certainly seems to be the way the league is heading after adding a 17th back in 2021.

A June 20 article from ESPN’s Brooke Pryor explored players’ reactions to that possibility, with Pryor noting that league commissioner Roger Goodell himself has stated he’d be in favor of expanding the regular season to 18 games and reducing the preseason to two.

The Steelers locker room was among those asked about the potential change. You can read an excerpt below:

“Whatever the league gives you, man, you just got to adjust to it,” [Damontae] Kazee said with a shrug. “I got to this point in my life, I’m an old head now, about to be 31. You just got to adjust to everything and go on from there. … Them giving us 18 games, I mean, I wouldn’t complain about it.

[DeShon] Elliott interjected: “I would. They don’t pay us enough.”

Kazee laughed and continued: “I mean, I’m straight. I wasn’t getting paid like this where I was at. … It can be positive for both sides. People look at it as another week to feed your family. … I love it.”

That exchange between the teammates is a microcosm of discussions being held in locker rooms around the league.

Steelers safety DeShon Elliott was quoted again later in the article, making the point that a longer season wouldn’t be fair to lower-paid players.

“They’re not paying us enough money already,” Elliott said. “They’re stingy with their money, so they want to make us play 18 games, as a player union, we should get way more money than what we’re getting — and not just the top guys. And the thing is, they’re not out here playing football. They’re not here running around putting their bodies on the line. They don’t care. All they care about is making money, but if you’re going to make money on the top end, the bottom end has to make money too.”

Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was also quoted as being against the change, stating that there are plenty of games already, and dropping a preseason matchup wouldn’t make a difference to the starters who usually rest during that time of year already.

Guard James Daniels also stated that while he understands the monetary benefit of an extra game, it’s hypocritical coming from a league that claims to place an emphasis on player safety.

Pryor noted that 46% of the NFL players surveyed were in favor of the change to 18 games “with stipulations,” 27% had no response, 19% were completely against it, and 8% were in favor without any stipulations.

While it seems the majority of NFL players could be talked into approving an 18-game season, there are plenty in the Steelers’ locker room who are part of the 19 percent.

As for now, the NFL remains structured for 17 regular season games and three preseason matchups. Pittsburgh’s first preseason game of 2024 will occur on August 9 against the Houston Texans at home.

Pryor’s entire article, with more player perspectives and added context, can be found on ESPN here.