While we’re only on day one of OTAs, we’re already talking about who isn’t here this year. The 92 jersey that used to belong to James Harrison is now looking quite childlike in comparison on rookie undrafted free agent Olaskunkanmi Adeniyi. And Arthur Moats’ presence is already missed in the locker room, according to Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree.
Moats originally signed with the Steelers on a one-year contract in 2014 and ended up playing a vital role that year, starting for half the season after Jarvis Jones suffered an injury in the third game. He recorded a career-high four sacks, and the team signed him to a three-year deal the following year.
Since then, he had grown into an integral presence in the locker room, one of the warmest faces in the building and a voice of wisdom and reason for the younger players in the locker room. The ninth-year veteran is currently a free agent hoping to continue his career.
“Man, Moats is gone, man. That hurts us in the locker room”, he told Chris Adamski on the first day of OTAs. “It was a big loss; Moats is a great player– but more than that, he’s just a great person, just being around him everyday cheers you up. But it happens, comings and goings”.
Bud Dupree, on how ’18 differs from ’17:
“Man, (Arthur) Moats is gone, man. That hurts us in the locker room. It was a big loss; Moats is a great player– but more than that, he’s just a great person, just being around him everyday cheers you up. But it happens, comings & goings”
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 22, 2018
Moats didn’t even see much playing time last year behind Dupree and T.J. Watt, with Anthony Chickillo absorbing the vast majority of the leftover snaps, which included two starts early in the season when each starter missed one game.
But he is credited with starting 25 games over the course of the previous three seasons, most of it coming at the left outside linebacker spot, first while Dupree was a rookie in 2015, and then while he was injured in 2016.
Moats had reportedly previously received some interest from the Atlanta Falcons, but did not sign with them. at the time, Jeremy Fowler reported that the Steelers were still leaving the door open for the veteran for a possible return.
That was prior to the draft, and Pittsburgh failed to address the position with any of their seven selection, though they did add Adeniyi as an undrafted free agent, and they also have 2017 seventh-round pick Keion Adams back on the field healthy after missing his rookie season.
As they did with the tight end position a year ago when they were failed to address it in free agency and the draft, the Steelers may wait until they get a better feel for what they have on the roster, particularly in players like Adeniyi and Adams, during training camp before they decide to make an addition.
That could include a reunion with Moats for a fifth season, who might not see the field much, but would be an important addition in the locker room, similar to the presence of a player like Darrius Heyward-Bey at the wide receiver position.