I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: Coty Sensabaugh should not be ignored in talking about the 2018 53-man roster.
It seems we’ve all collectively come to the conclusion that veteran cornerback Coty Sensabaugh is not going to be on the 53-man roster for the Steelers this season, even though he was all of last year and the team has already released a number of players, with no expectation that they will continue to do so.
The team kept Sensabaugh on the roster last year even after he was benched, and was the number seven cornerback, because they went into the season with six cornerbacks and then activated rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton from injured reserve, releasing outside linebacker James Harrison to make room for him (indirectly).
He might have had a few screw-ups during his playing time while Joe Haden was injured, but he also made some plays, including an interception, and he wasn’t benched on special teams because of mistakes. They just needed the game-day spot so they phased him out.
The Steelers released William Gay and did not draft a cornerback, so there is room for him. Alex Kozora last year compared him to a younger Gay, and with another year in the Steelers’ system he can still provide depth for at least one more season. The fact that we still don’t know if Brian Allen is capable of contributing on defense is a crucial factor too.
The penny pinchers though have already erased Sensabaugh from their memories. The Steelers would save $1.4 million prior to roster displacement by releasing him, and to be fair that’s not all that cheap for a number five cornerback.
There’s also Dashaun Phillips, who was on the practice squad all of last season. Phillips played on defense for a couple of years in Washington before the Steelers acquired him via trade. He was also a fixture on special teams, so he could be the one that pushes for a sixth cornerback spot and protects the team from discovering that Allen can’t play.
The need (or likelihood) of the Steelers carrying five safeties makes is much less likely they carry six cornerbacks, though, so perhaps none of those mentioned here ends up with a roster spot.