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: Morgan Burnett will complete the contract he signed with the Steelers, and do so as a starter.
Buy (Agree with the Statement):
The Steelers don’t sign a ton of players to big (by their standards) contracts from outside of the organization, but even if recent examples point to the contrary, they generally run smoothly, especially in comparison to virtually any other NFL team.
Morgan Burnett signed to a fairly modest contract that will take him through the 2020 season, by the end of which he will be turning 32 years old. If he is a strong safety at that point and playing in the box, which would likely be the plan, then there is no reason to believe he can’t continue to play at a starting level.
Even in that 2020 season, when the salary cap will probably be about $15 million higher than it currently is, he only has a cap hit of about $5.5 million, and it’s only that high because they restructured his contract to have a very low year-one hit. His base salary that year is $4 million.
Sell (Disagree with the Statement):
The Steelers have several young safeties that are going to spend the next three years pushing Burnett, including incumbent and fellow starter Sean Davis. The key here may be him holding onto his job long-term.
Terrell Edmunds is going to be given a chance to start at some point, and realistically that is going to come by the end of 2020. Burnett may complete his contract, but there is a very good chance he finishes it in a reduced role.
As he gets older, he is also experiencing an increase in nagging injuries, which could be the start of a bad trend that might help him see an early termination. It really depends a lot upon Davis, Edmunds, and Marcus Allen, who could develop into that dimebacker role himself that Burnett might be earmarked for long-term.