The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Who is the biggest boom-or-bust starter on the Steelers?
I don’t really have much in the way of specifics in mind while posing this question, so feel free to use your own criteria in your responses. Just make it a realistic answer. I don’t think there’s much risk of Antonio Brown becoming a bust in productivity at this point in his career, for example, and unless injuries are a prominent part of a player’s history, they shouldn’t be thrown into the equation. If you want to talk about the importance of a player’s particular role, or the risk of his salary, however, go for it.
He’s not on a second contract yet, but Artie Burns is really important to this team, and I think his success or failure is going to have a major impact on them. While he has taken a lot of undue criticism, it’s not like he has earned long-term job security right now. If he fails, they don’t really have anybody to replace him who can be what he was expected to be. And Joe Haden isn’t a long-term answer either.
He’s not being paid a lot, but if Jon Bostic can’t hold the fort at inside linebacker this year, it’s easy to picture this defense getting chewed up. They had a hard time plugging all the leaks that Ryan Shazier was covering up this year, and the bottom line is we haven’t even seen the guy in a Steelers uniform yet.
Having Jesse James behind him provides a bit of a cushion, but Vance McDonald is another player with boom potential. He could be a hugely productive and complete tight end, something the Steelers have been looking for, honestly, since Heath Miller tore his ACL.
How about a guy with a big contract? Stephon Tuitt was supposed to break out in a big way last year. Was his injury on the second snap of the season the only reason that didn’t happen? They gave him a huge contract if he’s not about to be at least as good as Cameron Heyward. Consistency is huge for him.