Could avoiding offseason losses mean more wins for the Steelers?
Updated: July 31, 2002, 11:02 AM ETBy by Tony Nistler, STATS. Inc.
For much of the mid- to late-1990s, the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster was picked over like a John Madden turkey leg at the annual Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit or Dallas. The perennially successful Steelers proved to be a fertile free-agent breeding ground, with the likes of Neil O'Donnell, Eric Green, Chad Brown, Carnell Lake, Rod Woodson, Leon Searcy, Yancey Thigpen, Kevin Greene, John Jackson and Charles Johnson all being snatched up in the open market during the period from 1995 to 1999. As the team's success began to wane in 1998 and especially '99, however, Pittsburgh became a less popular target for clubs looking to add big-name pieces to their roster puzzle. Yet despite the Steelers' resurgence in 2000 and 2001, the pillaging of the Pittsburgh roster has yet to begin again in earnest. In fact, the 2002 Steelers will have the luxury of fielding nearly the same starting roster that last season came within a couple of New England special teams "surprises" from going to the Super Bowl. Just how intact are the 2002 Steelers? One way to answer that question is to examine the number of 2001 starts lost by each team as clubs open training camp. Excluding kickers, punters and other special teams personnel, each NFL club had 352 possible regular-season starts in 2001: