Steelers Seeking Long-Term Stability For Offensive Line

Though it’s certainly no surprise, the Pittsburgh Steelers recently chose to pick up the fifth-year club option for right guard David DeCastro’s rookie contract, which ties him to the organization for at least the next two years through the 2016 season.

The fifth-year option will pay him a salary of just north of $8 million in 2016, but it is highly likely that the front office works out a long-term extension for DeCastro next offseason in the same manner in which they are expected to do so with defensive end Cameron Heyward this offseason, who is currently in his fifth-year option season right now.

It is worth noting that DeCastro’s 2016 salary right now is not guaranteed for anything but injury, although it’s highly unlikely that anything happens between now and then that would pull that money off the books anyway.

With DeCastro booked, though, that gives the Steelers with a bit of long-term stability with the now with the majority of their offensive line, as the front office worked out long-term extensions with both center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert last offseason that ties them to the team through 2019.

In addition to that, Pittsburgh is expected to work out a long-term extension with left tackle Kelvin Beachum prior to the start of the regular season, so before the first game is played in September, the Steelers should have significant long-term stability completed for the majority of their offensive line.

That in itself is both a noteworthy achievement and a significant source of comfort and relief, knowing that they can expect to have an established core of offensive linemen to usher Ben Roethlisberger on through, presumably, the remainder of his career, which the Steelers anticipate to be at least five more seasons.

The only position in which the team is not projected to have long-term stability, in terms of the current contract situation as well as relative to performance and age, is at left guard, where Ramon Foster has been the starter full-time over the course of the past two seasons.

Foster, who turned 29 in January, is the oldest starting lineman on the team, and it’s worth noting that the team’s primary interior backup, Cody Wallace, is even older, and will turn 31 during the season. He is also naturally a center by trade, rather than guard.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Foster following this season, if indeed he isn’t given some type of modest extension himself over the next few months, as he, like Beachum, is also in the final year of his contract.

Much of that will depend on how he performs this year, of course. 2014 was a bit of a down year for the veteran guard, and he will have to prove to the front office that he can still give them at least a couple of years of quality starting material. Failing that, of course, he could also be retained as a priority reserve at multiple positions.

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