The Pittsburgh Steelers will have many decisions to make during the next week. Free agency is nearing and Kevin Colbert has hinted at making a move somewhere, possibly inside linebacker. With a couple obvious holes on defense and a couple subtle ones on offense, it’s going to be a busy time of year. Lower on the list are retaining some of their bit-piece veterans. Like Arthur Moats. Most people assume he’ll be gone. But could he return for one last go?
Perhaps the best case for keeping him is the veteran mentorship. James Harrison is gone and hearing from that unit after he left, he wasn’t the leader he was perceived to be. The rest of the group is a relatively young bunch. Without Moats, Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo are the “vets,” two guys who certainly have experience by now but hardly the ideal meaning of a “veteran presence.”
Moats can related to everyone in the room. A guy who has played inside, outside, moved mid-season, a late round pick who has had to scratch and claw to carve out a role in the NFL. He’s been a starter, a rotational piece, and a special teamer throughout his career. Basically, he’s worn every hat imaginable and whether the team brings in a first rounder of a UDFA, he’s someone who can help ease the transition.
And it’s a locker room that needs some of those leaders. It comes from starts like Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward but leadership has nothing to with supreme talent. It can take a whole locker room to keep control, especially with issue after issue that popped up last season.
Moats is the one guy who has the ability to line up everywhere. He was the one the team turned to in a pinch to play inside linebacker when Ryan Shazier and Tyler Matakevich went down. He wasn’t great there and the team quickly stuck with Sean Spence but it speaks to their level of trust and confidence. Moats knows the defense inside and out. For a team with some serious communication problems, keeping a guy like that around can help prevent those mistakes from happening again.
Bringing Moats back doesn’t even guarantee a Week One roster spot. But he’s worth bringing to camp while the rest of the outside linebacker group gets fleshed out. They could keep up to five; right now, only three are locks to the roster. Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, and Anthony Chickillo. There’s the unproven Keion Adams, a couple of future contracts who bring some intrigue, and whoever is added during free agency and/or the draft. For injury protection and depth, it’s a smart play. If he makes the roster, that’s awesome. If not, that means the other guys worked out. Win/win.
The smart thing to do is bring him back on a one year contract, perhaps for the minimum salary benefit. Then let it all play out in Latrobe. Create so much depth that back-end of the roster comes to camp every day knowing they’re fighting hard for a roster spot. And let the cream rise to the crop.