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: Does Lance Moore deserve to stick around for the second half of his contract?
The Steelers signed Lance Moore to a two-year contract in direct response to taking a double hit in free agency when they lost both Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery to teams willing to offer more money and bigger roles.
In particular, the front office was hoping that Moore could provide production from the slot to replace Cotchery’s breakout Steelers performance of 2013, similar to what he was able to accomplish in New Orleans.
That never quite panned out, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, Moore started off the season nursing an injury that kept him out of the first two games, during which Justin Brown began to carve out a role for himself—which ended abruptly after six games.
But that was not because of Moore catching up to the moving train and assuming the role he was brought in to play. Rather, it was due to the fact that rookie receiver Martavis Bryant was activated, and he began racking up the touchdowns in a way that dissuaded any ideas of taking him off the field.
Even when he did see playing time, he didn’t always produce. While his two touchdowns were nice—one came late in a meaningless blowout loss—he didn’t always seem in sync with his quarterback, and he certainly didn’t look like the same player he was known to be several years ago.
Due to the way his contract was structured, the majority of his two-year, $3 million salary is set to count in 2015, with a $1.5 million base salary. Figuring to be no better than the fourth option at wide receiver with a team that prominently features a tight end and running back in the passing game, that is not good value at all.
While the argument could be made that his veteran leadership is a boon to the relatively young wide receiving unit, the fact of the matter is that Antonio Brown, entering his sixth season and coming off his second straight All-Pro appearance, is the leader of the group. He ought to be able to handle that role, especially if it means saving $1.5 million in cap space by releasing Moore.