Player: Matt Feiler
Position: Offensive Line
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights – Re-Signed
2017 Salary Cap Hit: $465,000
2017 Season Breakdown:
It was quite a long road for Matt Feiler from Bloomsburg, collegiately from 2010 to 2013, to finally making a 53-man roster outright for the Steelers in 2017. While he briefly spent a two-game stint on the 53-man roster in 2016, it was only due to injury, and he was quickly demoted after that.
Feiler began is college career at guard, but was moved to tackle later one. When the Steelers initially brought him in, they started him at tackle, but later moved him to guard, and it is at the guard position that he really displayed an improved skill set last season, which pushed him into the running for a spot on the 53-man roster.
The fact that he no longer had practice squad eligibility remaining likely also factored into the Steelers’ decision to keep him initially, with nine linemen being carried in total, as they do often carry eight on the 53, plus another two on the practice squad. He was good enough to be one of their 10, but he had to be on the 53 in order for them to have him.
Due to injuries, Feiler actually spent a good amount of time during the first half of the season as the team’s backup tackle behind Chris Hubbard, who was starting at right tackle due to Marcus Gilbert’s injury, while their second-year tackle was also nursing a minor injury, and had not progressed as they would have liked to that point.
During the Lions game, Hubbard suffered a concussion late in the game, and Feiler had to come in for the last several snaps and play at right tackle. This was the first meaningful playing experience of his career.
At the end of the season, with the Steelers resting starters, he was given the opportunity to start at right guard in place of All-Pro David DeCastro, and he represented himself rather well in that game against the Browns.
Free Agency Outlook:
While he had been around for a couple of years already, Feiler really started to cross people’s radar this past season when he showed significant growth working at guard during the preseason. The Steelers had him pulling, even, without looking lost.
He had been on practice squads for three years, so he was far from new, but his versatility to play both inside and outside, and finally his starting display in the regular season finale, made it a no-brainer for the team to want to bring him back.
Which was easy enough to do, of course, as he only has one year of accrued experience toward free agency, so was an exclusive rights free agent. They got him signed back up early on, and it is likely that he will play as the eighth lineman behind B.J. Finney and Jerald Hawkins.