Updated: Mar 10, 2021
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
The start of free agency begins on March 17 and speculation is starting to grow on who stays and who goes on the Steelers. They have a slew of unrestricted free agents this offseason and many believe that Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Alejandro Villanueva will sign with other teams. The Steelers just don't have the cap space to retain any of the three players, as they're all projected to make $16 million per year or more.
James Conner will also likely depart, but that has more to do with his performance on the field being subpar. Mike Hilton should also cash in on a big contract, and I don't think the Steelers will be able to keep him. I can see them bringing back Cam Sutton instead, who'll be a cheaper option.
Hilton went undrafted coming out of Ole Miss in 2016 and was signed to the Steelers' practice squad in December of 2016 after being cut by the Jaguars and Patriots. In NFL terms, he hasn't made much money in his five years in the league, but that's about to change in a few weeks when he signs a big contract with a team.
Via 93.7 The Fan, Spotrac projected where Dupree, Smith-Schuster, Villanueva, Conner, and Hilton will land this offseason and how much they'll get paid. Spotrac has Dupree signing with the Chiefs for $12 million on a one-year deal and they predict that Smith-Schuster gets a five-year deal worth around $80 million with Miami.
Spotrac sees Villanueva signing a two-year, $32 million deal with Indianapolis and Conner signing a two-year deal worth $10 million with the Jaguars. And then lastly, they have Hilton signing a three-year deal worth $21 million with divisional foe the Bengals.
A free-agent frenzy will be pretty crazy next week and a bunch of Steelers players is in for big paydays. But unfortunately, it won't be the Steelers who will be signing the checks.