With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: OLB Jarvis Jones
Stock Value: Down
I think it stands to reason that as far as value goes, Jarvis Jones’ stock has been largely trending downward since he was made a first-round draft pick in 2013. After three years of playing, he doesn’t look a whole lot more like the player they were hoping that they were getting back then.
And when it comes to stock, and value, one clear indicator is literally what resources you are willing to commit with respect to retaining the stock, e.g. what you value the stock at. The Steelers had the option of valuing Jones’ 2017 stock at a bit over $8 million, in spite of the fact that that salary would not be guaranteed until March, and they balked at it, essentially banking on the notion that he will not develop into a player worth a salary in that range.
I specify “a player worth a salary in that range” because it’s somewhat rare for these players, at least with the relatively small sample size currently available, to actually play under the fifth-year option, but instead, they typically work out a long-term extension using that fifth-year option value as the touchstone for negotiations.
With the Steelers turning down the option, they are in essence declaring that they don’t believe Jones will become a producer that will command in excess of a few million dollars per season. It’s not that this should be surprising, but it is simply a fact of the matter. And the fact is that they money wouldn’t have even been guaranteed for a while.
They did not even want that figure on the books as a negotiating point, so it’s not leverage either way. Jones is set to head into the final year of his contract now, with no assurances of salary, let alone employment, beyond this year. And if there should end up being some extension talks, those talks will be had beginning with a much narrower price range in mind.
This all comes in a period of obvious transition, with James Harrison soon to depart, and no other obvious option to inherit the premium pass-rushing option but a couple of late-rounders who have earned nothing yet in this league. But Jones will likely be given the opportunity to raise his stock this season, presumably receiving the bulk of the playing time this year at right outside linebacker. Expectations for that seem to be low.