The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Ramon Foster will complete his new two-year contract as a starter.
Explanation: Foster, who turned 33 in early January, was scheduled to hit free agency this season before he signed a new two-year contract to remain with the Steelers. He will be 35 by the time the contract expires, with B.J. Finney and perhaps others awaiting their turn in the meantime.
As much as one would like to ‘move on’ for the sake of moving on, Ramon Foster remains the Steelers’ best left guard on the roster. The fact of the matter is that his 2018 season was about as good as he has ever played, and he did not miss a snap to boot.
Making that all the more impressive is the fact that he suffered a high ankle sprain early in training camp that caused him to miss all of camp and the preseason. Yet when the games starting counting, he was there to be counted upon.
He’ll never be mistaken for a sprinter, but Foster has made it a decade-long career with his intelligence and technique, and those are two things that don’t age—at least not in your 30s. B.J. Finney is good. Matt Feiler looked good as a starter at right guard in 2017 in the season finale as well. But Foster is still the best option. And he’s still here for two more years.
Sometimes you move on not because it’s the best possible scenario for the very immediate future but because it better reflects what is needed a year or two down the road. The Steelers already had to give Finney a second-round restricted tender this year that will pay him over $3 million.
He will hit the open market in 2020, and he has put enough starts on tape to draw interest. They will likely have to give him starter money to keep him next year, which means that he might as well start as well.
And if Feiler doesn’t win the starting right tackle job, that puts him in the conversation to compete for the left guard spot as well, so he could have two younger players breathing down his neck soon enough. That’s difficult to hold off for two years when the coaching staff already knows both of them can play.