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Pittsburgh has had undrafted free agents such as James Harrison and Willie Parker develop into Pro Bowl players in recent years, but this year, the lack of a collective bargaining agreement won’t allow for any players to be signed upon completion of the draft.

That’s just one of the restrictions placed on teams during this unique offseason of no free agency. There’s also no contact with players, no OTAs, and no minicamps. All could factor into a team’s draft plans.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and questions we can’t answer as we sit here today,” Tomlin said. “How the labor agreement plays out is going to be a big component of it.”

One thing teams still are permitted to do is trade draft picks, be it from this year’s draft or future ones.

Colbert said the lack of undrafted free agents could make accumulating late picks more attractive than usual, making trading down an option. But, so is trading up to get one of those 20 “special players” on the Steelers' draft board.

“We always tell teams we can go either way. And we will,” Colbert said. “Depending on who’s still available in the top of that first round, we might want to go up and get him. If we’re not happy (with what’s available) … we’re going to pick somebody at 31 if we have to, but we’ll look at if there’s offers for our picks. And we’ll certainly look at that and entertain the possibility of going down.”

No matter what they do, the Steelers seem have a knack for pressing the right draft buttons. In the past decade alone, the Steelers have traded up in the first round to select safety Troy Polamalu and receiver Santonio Holmes. They also traded down a decade ago to draft defensive lineman Casey Hampton. All became starters on at least one Super Bowl-winning team.

“The philosophy that this organization follows was developed long before myself or my scouts got in,” said Colbert, who was hired in 2000. “(Former scouting director) Art Rooney, Jr., set a standard. And he and coach (Chuck) Noll put together a philosophy that the organization believes in, and we just fall in line with that.”