With the signing of Mark Barron, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jon Bostic knows that his starting days are probably done after he joined the team one a two-year, $4 million contract last offseason. His role had already been becoming subsumed by L.J. Fort late in the year, and he was taken off the field in the dime defense anyway.
Earlier this offseason, General Manager Kevin Colbert was pretty clear in his assessment of the Steelers’ ability to address the inside linebacker position in 2018 in the wake of Ryan Shazier’s injury, which doesn’t necessarily reflect well on Bostic.
“No, we didn’t do enough [to replace Shazier] because we’re 9-6-1. We’re not going to hide from that, and if we do, we won’t”, Colbert said. “We’re going to recognize that as we go forward for sure, but we have more than one position that we want to continue to look at and upgrade and there may be players that are available to us that we don’t need that are going to upgrade us and they make us that much better that that deficiency may be overcome by having that player”.
As we sit here today, it figures to be Vince Williams and Barron, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract after he was released by the Los Angeles Rams, as the team’s two starters along the inside. The draft can change that, and could push Bostic even further down the depth chart, perhaps even off the roster, in the worst-case scenario.
But he is willing to do whatever it takes to remain on-board in Pittsburgh. “For me, I am willing to do whatever is asked”, he told the team’s website recently in an article by Teresa Varley published yesterday. “Whatever we have to do to win I am down for it. I like to play fast, play physical. That is what it comes down to”.
Truly, Bostic does have two feathers in his cap. Most importantly, he is a very clean tackler, easily among the best on the roster. He doesn’t miss many by any means. As a run defender, he is also competent at the very least. He can diagnose the play and has the size to disengage.
Where he struggled was in coverage, where he allowed 30 of 37 targets to be caught for 331 yards and a pair of touchdowns, only netting two passes defensed for his efforts. Some of that may have been on some ill-advised schemes that put him in bad positions, but he probably knows he was not at his best in this area.
Rounding out the current group among the notable names is Tyler Matakevich, who has been almost exclusively a special teams player through his first three seasons. With Williams, Barron, Bostic, and Matakevich, they are certainly lacking some athleticism.
Adding at least one player through the draft at this position is a certainty, and adding multiple players is reasonably likely as well. The back half of the depth chart will be pushed significantly this summer to hand on.