It seems that every year, the media circus surrounding the Super Bowl expands incrementally, to the point where it now extends beyond the Pro Bowl a week prior to the actual game. No longer is it a relatively calm gathering of select reporters for a day—it’s now a week-long extravaganza, featuring just about anybody who can get in.
That list includes an assortment of NFL personalities not associated with the game. We have seen in recent years plenty of representatives of the Pittsburgh Steelers, for example. This year, free-agent-to-be Kelvin Beachum is reportedly taking in the pre-Super Bowl 50 festivities, for perhaps reasons not altogether unrelated to business.
The four-year left tackle, of course, is coming off a rookie contract during which he was woefully underpaid for most of it, having come up from being a compensatory seventh-round draft pick to protecting the blind side of a franchise quarterback.
Beachum suffered a torn ACL in the sixth week of the season, which puts a bit of a wrench into his free agency plans, so perhaps, as Dale Lolley suggests, he is making the rounds to show that he is healthy, or at least coming along well in his recovery.
Beachum managed to get some air time during the Wildcard game while standing near offensive line coach Mike Munchak when a scuffle occurred between him and a Bengals player. The injured tackle stepped in to shield his coach.
Perhaps an even greater factor in his future financial intake is tied to how the rest of the NFL views him. While the Steelers have started Beachum as a left tackle for the majority of his career—and previously as a right tackle due to injury as a rookie—he was, nevertheless, the shortest starting tackle in the league at just 6’3”.
When Pittsburgh drafted him, in fact, they primarily spoke of him potentially as moving inside to guard, and, long-term, as a five-position player with the ability to learn the center position, a role that he had to fill in the 2013 season opener.
If the rest of the league doesn’t see him as a tackle but rather would look to kick him inside to guard, then that will have salary implications, as, generally speaking, interior linemen are not as highly compensated as their bookend counterparts who routinely go up against the league’s premiere edge rushers.
Mark Kaboly spoke to Beachum earlier today, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer was given a very strong and very clear impression about how the four-year veteran views himself, Tweeting, “[Beachum] made it quite clear that he is a LEFT TACKLE”.
Kaboly finished his Tweet taking a jab at a narrative undercurrent that has been blossoming for some years that Beachum might ultimately be the long-term replacement for Ramon Foster at left guard, but it appears that Beachum has no interest in doing that.
Still, much of his future will be determined by the perception of him from the rest of the league. Somebody has to give him both the money and the opportunity to play the left tackle spot. More likely than not, there will be a suitor or two. But for now, he has reportedly made his intentions clear, as though there were any doubt. Whether in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, he will be on the outside.
Just talked to Kelvin @KelvinBeachumJr on and he made it quite clear that he is a LEFT TACKLE. So much for the moving him to guard narrative
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) February 2, 2016