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: At least one 2019 rookie undrafted free agent will make the 53-man roster this season.
Explanation: I specified 2019 rookie because this otherwise could also technically include a player like J.C. Hassenauer, who came out last year but never signed with a team and played with the AAF. I regard him as a 2018 rookie in 2019 even though he is regarded as a rookie now.
The concerns at the specialist positions alone make this a relatively high proposition, with both Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry coming off, let’s say, less than ideal performances in 2018. The Steelers bought in a punter and a kicker, and they could potentially add more or replace the current challengers with more-suited ones later on. There’s a long snapper too.
Given that there are only four safeties on the roster, and their relative quality within the pool of undrafted free agents they signed, P.J. Locke and Dravon Askew-Henry also give this group a better chance of claiming a member for the 53-man roster, especially if they are able to link up with Danny Smith and throw back a couple packs of gum together one afternoon.
While the specialist and safety groups may present the best opportunities for an undrafted free agent this year to make some headway toward the 53-man roster, however, it’s hard to argue that they are more likely than not to happen.
For starters, if the Steelers really want to solve the kicker position, for example, and decide that Boswell isn’t it, they are just as likely to seek a trade with a more proven kicker as they head into a season in which they expect to have Super Bowl aspirations.
As for safety, they may have only had four in the group who have previously been rostered, but they regard that as a strong four, including Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen, who could be the dime back this year. And Mike Tomlin already talked about the versatility of cornerbacks like Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton to play back there. Plus there’s the Mark Barron factor.