I think everybody knows the score by now when it comes to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats. Entering his eighth season in the league, and the fourth with the Steelers, the veteran understands that he is under more pressure to maintain his roster spot than he has ever been before.
In 2014, when the Steelers originally signed him, they had a dearth of linebackers. In fact, if I recall correctly, they only went in to the year with three outside linebackers on the roster, with Moats being one of them. So it wasn’t very hard for him to make the team. And he opened each of the past two seasons as a de facto starter for one reason or another.
This year, it’s different. Moats seems to be far down the depth chart at this point, especially, for once, with everybody actually healthy. Bud Dupree is up and running, as is James Harrison, who is being held out of training camp. In the meantime, rookie first-round pick T.J. Watt is gearing up for a lot of playing time, and Anthony Chickillo is poised to pick up the scraps, if there are any.
That leaves Moats in a position in which he is at best the fifth outside linebacker on the depth chart, which is a position that requires an active participation on special teams, and he does not play on special teams as much as he has in the past.
He is being pressured for his spot on the roster by another rookie, Keion Adams drafted in the seventh round. While there is a long way to go, he has impressed in flashes, but it will ultimately come down to special teams, and the rookie has a fair chance of sticking out in that role.
So what’s a veteran to do to retain his roster spot? The simple answer is, whatever is asked of him. And Chris Adamski asked Moats last night what has been asked of him. That is, if he would be open to taking snaps at inside linebacker, where he did play some during his four-year tenure in Buffalo.
He told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer, “I’m down for it”. “I’m open to anything like that”, he continued, but raised the issue that “we haven’t had those conversations” about him moving around, and “until we do, I’m going to continue to focus on my outside linebacker position”.
Dave Bryan previously this offseason made the argument that Moats would not be a good fit to move to the inside for the Steelers at this point in his career, and I would be inclined to agree. I don’t know that he would be a better option than the top four or five that they already have there.
But whatever it takes, it takes. It will be interesting to see if they do give him any opportunities on the inside. He did take some snaps there last training camp, but only due to an accumulation of injuries. While I have previously projected that Moats will miss the roster, it’s not a prospect that I’m excited about, because he is an important presence in the locker room.