The Pessimist’s Take: Pushing To Keep Terence Garvin

The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.

Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the pessimist’s take on the following question.

Question: Should the Steelers make an extra effort to re-sign Terence Garvin with Sean Spence already gone?

With the Pittsburgh Steelers having already seen some of their depth at inside linebacker get chipped away this offseason following Sean Spence’s one-year contract to join the Titans earlier this week, another one of the team’s depth inside linebackers, Terence Garvin, has also just taken himself off the market.

Considering that the team failed to tender him a restricted free agent offer that would only be worth roughly $1.6 million—a tool that they have used rather liberally over the years to keep their three-year veteran players, considering that money is not guaranteed until they make the 53-man roster, Garvin’s scheduled visits would seem to imply that there might was more interest in him than anticipated.

But even with Spence’s departure, however, that does not mean that the Steelers should have tried to go out of their way to try to keep Garvin, a player who has not logged more than a handful of snaps on defense over the course of his three-year career.

While he has worked himself up to be a very good, core special teams player for Pittsburgh during his time year, the team obviously did not feel that it was worth the value of the restricted free agent tender, and were perhaps hoping to bring him back at a lesser value, as they once were able to do with Stevenson Sylvester, the only restricted free agent in recent years I can recall who was not tendered.

But even with Spence leaving, his re-signing did not rise to the level of an emergency, because they still have Vince Williams as the reserve inside linebacker. The Steelers have gone into seasons with less, as they did during Williams’ and Garvin’s rookie season in 2013.

Perhaps a factor in all this is the fact that the Steelers have more depth there than some might realize or remember. Veteran journeyman L.J. Fort was a late camp addition but impressed during the preseason, and made the practice squad as a 12th linebacker before finishing on the 53-man roster and logging special teams snaps in the Divisional round.

There is also Jordan Zumwalt still killing around, who has spent his first two seasons in the league on injured reserve. They have dumped other players with injury issues sooner, but have kept Zumwalt around, perhaps in the hopes that he could slide into a depth role as a fourth or fifth linebacker at a time like this. I’m not sure yet what Garvin got from Tennessee, but if the Steelers really valued him, they most likely would have tendered him as they did Robert Golden and Will Johnson last year.

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