PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers typically don't act early in free agency, but they've done enough already this year to affect their defense. Here's a quick look at how things are shaking out on that side of the ball, with 11 projected starters and a slot corner.
DE -- Cam Heyward: The 28-year-old is entering his prime and coming off a 12-sack season that earned All-Pro honors.
DT -- Javon Hargrave: A steady player who's shown pass-rush flashes but could get competition at nose, which the Steelers use less than half the time. Hargrave played 454 snaps last year, just above top swing lineman Tyson Alualu (436).
DE -- Stephon Tuitt: Disruptor still 24 years old, waiting on his first season of seven or more sacks. Will team with Heyward up front for a while.
OLB -- T.J. Watt: Looks to expand his arsenal of pass-rush moves in Year 2. Has good instincts and the versatility to cover and rush, which the Steelers covet.
ILB -- Jon Bostic: New signing might be a stopgap at inside linebacker, but he can play right away and produced 97 tackles for the Colts in 2017. Steelers can draft an inside linebacker to develop into the successor to Ryan Shazier, whose athletic prowess won't be replaced.
ILB -- Vince Williams: The Steelers were smart to extend Williams in 2016 on a deal that pays $2 million this season. Williams was one of the Steelers' top blitzes, finishing the year with eight sacks.
OLB -- Bud Dupree: The Steelers must decide whether to pick up Dupree's fifth-year option after 14 1/2 sacks in three seasons. Huge season for Dupree, who hopes to rush the passer more after a year when the team dropped their outside backers into coverage often.
CB -- Joe Haden: The Steelers were willing to carry Haden's $11.916 million cap hit because of the way he played in 2017. Gives the Steelers a consistent cover presence on the outside. Brian Allen will be among the backups.
Slot corner -- Mike Hilton: Hilton went from undrafted journeyman to starting slot corner thanks to physical play and skilled blitzing. The next question: Can he show in year two he's a long-term option as a cover man?
S -- J.J. Wilcox: This is a fluid spot since the Steelers can draft a safety high or utilize the flexibility of Cam Sutton, who played corner and safety coming out of Tennessee in 2017. The latter move has been rumored but not solidified. The Steelers also like Sutton at corner. But the team plans to keep Wilcox ($3.8 million cap hit) and let him compete with a full offseason. With Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden off the roster, Wilcox -- part of a Sept. 3 trade from Tampa Bay -- will have a chance to shrug off an unproductive 2017 campaign.
S -- Sean Davis: Davis is willing to switch to free safety if the Steelers want to take advantage of his range. That would leave Wilcox at his natural role at strong. Davis shined as a rookie and wasn't as crisp in year two, but the Steelers will be expecting a breakout in his third year.
CB -- Artie Burns: Burns, too, struggled at times in his second year, particularly with the deep ball. But his length, athleticism and experience will give him the inside track on the corner job opposite Haden. Sutton can compete for reps at this spot if he stays at corner.