You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.
In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.
When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.
Topic: Should the Steelers bring back cornerback Justin Gilbert on a low-value contract to compete for a roster spot?
Just prior to the start of the regular season, the Steelers gave up a 2018 sixth-round draft pick in exchange for the Browns’ former first-round cornerback, Justin Gilbert, whom they obviously gave up on after a couple of years of failure to live up to anything resembling their expectations.
While he was brought in so late in the process, it should not be a surprise that he didn’t contribute much, but they did use him in a couple of situations on defense, and he got some late opportunities to return kicks as well.
Hypothetically, there isn’t much damage to be done in bringing Gilbert back in after the draft if he can be had for a veteran-minimum salary, and based on his seeming complete lack of interest from teams on the market, that is not an entirely unrealistic scenario.
The Steelers have to add players for depth during the offseason to their 90-man roster anyway, and while they currently have 10 cornerbacks under contract, he would certainly make a more compelling name than, say, Greg Ducre or Brandon Dixon.
On the other hand, the reality is that the Steelers already got several months to get a first-hand look at the player, one whom they coveted during the draft in which they came out, enough to seek him in a trade for which they were willing to take on his multi-million dollar salary for the year.
They already know who and what he is and what he can offer. If they liked him more they probably would have signed him by now. At this point bringing him back may do more harm than good in taking away valuable opportunities for other, younger, less experienced cornerbacks to get an opportunity to either develop or to demonstrate to the coaching staff that they are deserving of a spot, or a role.
Which side do you lean closer toward?