In our final "Hope and Concern" segment, we take a look at the reigning AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Biggest reason for hope: Veteran talent and experience
The Steelers are built to win now. They have been to two Super Bowls in the past three years and should be a contender once again in 2011. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is distraction-free this year, the Steelers don't have many big-name free agents and Pittsburgh's extended offseason may actually keep this team healthy and well rested. Continuity is extremely important during this unique year and Pittsburgh has it perhaps more than any NFL team. The Steelers should be able to hit the ground running and contend for another division title whenever the season starts.
Biggest reason for concern: Cornerback
Pittsburgh doesn't have many big-name free agents, but the situation involving cornerback Ike Taylor could be problematic. The team's No. 1 corner is seeking market value, which could price Taylor out of Pittsburgh. Solid starting cornerbacks are getting paid $8-$10 million per season. Taylor, 31, may be able to get that number (or close to it) elsewhere, but it doesn't appear to be a price tag the Steelers are willing to match. Losing Taylor would leave a big hole in the defense. The Steelers drafted a pair of rookie corners in Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, but signing a veteran starter is the safest bet. Free agents such as Richard Marshall and Carlos Rogers could be viable options to replace Taylor.