Over the course of the next couple of coming offseasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing an interesting philosophical dilemma regarding how they choose to allocate their financial resources in terms of both real money and salary cap allotment.
More to the point, they will have to decide between two schools of thought—or at least mix and match their reasoning. The proponents of one argument suggest that it is poor planning and spending to allocate a disproportionate amount of money and salary cap space to one position group.
The proponents of the other theory maintain that you simply pay your best players, as long as it’s within reason, without regard for the broader significance or placement of that player’s position within the context of your team.
There doesn’t seem to me to be a clear, absolute historical policy that the Steelers have followed over the years, in this regard. On the one hand, the team has on multiple occasions had the dilemma of facing two wide receivers that needed to be paid, in which they chose one over the other.
On the other hand, they had no qualms with relaying a heavy amount of resources to their linebacker position back in 2011, when three of their starters all drew high salaries and high salary cap hits as a result.
Last offseason, the Steelers chose to pay center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert, with each contract commanding considerable money. This offseason, they have already elected to pick up the fifth-year option for right guard David DeCastro, which comes with a significant salary increase, and typically is accompanied with a new long-term deal.
They are also facing the decision now of what to do with left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract, and who has started 27 games at the position over the course of the past two seasons, including every snap last year.
Beachum has shown himself to be an ascending play, with most believing that his best ball is still ahead of him. Such a theory would behoove the team to get a deal done sooner rather than later if it is their intention to extend him long-term.
But they must decide if it’s strategically responsible to commit heavy resources to four out of five offensive linemen, should they indeed work out deals with both Beachum and DeCastro over the course of the next two years.
Ultimately, whether or not this ends up happening, I do not think that it will come down to a philosophical opposition to the idea. I expect that the front office will weigh each case on an individual basis, consider their options, and make a decision.
Each of these decisions come with unique circumstances. In the Steelers’ case, we are looking at perhaps the final five seasons with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whom the team just committed over $100 million to. In such a circumstance, it might make more sense to weigh heavily on investing in the offensive line to protect that asset.