While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.
No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.
With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.
In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.
Question: Should the Steelers extend Ramon Foster as he enters the last year of his contract?
When the Steelers take the field next, left guard Ramon Foster will be knocking on 30 years of age come January. He will also be entering the final year of a three-year contract that was the first that he had earned as a projected starter.
That is if the Steelers don’t elect to extend his contract prior to the season, which has generally been their policy for core players still of relatively young age who have one year left on their contract, prior to the start of the next season.
Would it be a prudent decision to do so, though? While he may be somewhat of a leader in the locker room, the Steelers already have Maurkice Pouncey, an All-Pro, for that, and potentially another emerging Pro Bowler at the other guard position.
We must consider the fact that, of the five starting linemen, Foster least fits the profile of what the Steelers are looking for as they continue to rebuild a young, more agile and mobile unit. While they do get him to pull some, he does not do so gallantly, for example.
There’s also the very real and clear drop in performance that we saw from Foster from 2013 to 2014. His career saw a fairly upward trajectory to that point, with 2013 reaching its zenith, but he was often little more than average during this past season.
Do the Steelers have all the pieces in place along the offensive line that they want, or is Foster the variable left to be replaced? That is a question that the team has to ask as they consider their future.
But there is time yet for that, of course. There is still the draft, and free agency, and the offseason. Could the Steelers possibly develop somebody to take over the left guard spot in time for 2016? Should they?