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: The Steelers’ starting right outside linebacker in 2020 is not currently on the roster.
Explanation: The only outside linebacker the team is fully comfortable with is T.J. Watt. There is some cautious optimism about Bud Dupree entering his fifth season, while Anthony Chickllo is dependable if limited in production, and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Sutton Smith represent the unproven potential.
Either way his 2019 season goes, there’s a good chance Dupree plays his way out of Pittsburgh. Either he plays well enough to earn a contract on the open market that the Steelers won’t step up to match, or he’ll play sufficiently poorly to convince the team that he is not worth pursuing beyond his rookie contract.
As for Chickillo, looking at his high cap hit next year, he might not even be on the roster in 2020. Smith will never be anything more than a role player at best because of his size. Adeniyi has some potential, but there is still so much more to go before we can really talk about him in terms of being a legitimate NFL starter. We’re definitely not there right now.
Maybe Adeniyi isn’t there right now. But that’s largely been due to a lack of opportunity because he had been injured. I think he would have gotten a lot more playing time had he not missed most of his rookie season. Not because of the obvious reason, but because he wouldn’t have missed all that practice time and he would have gained the coaches’ trust. He has the talent and the skills, we’ve seen that. He might be that starter-capable guy.
We can’t rule out Dupree either, if anything simply because the Steelers haven’t. It doesn’t matter what the fans think about whether or not he should be re-signed based on his 2019 performance. They might do it anyway even if the fans disagree.
And if they don’t, you have to think that that’s at least in part why they signed Chickillo, yet another player the team may have a higher opinion on than most fans. I can legitimately see them going into 2020 with Chickillo as a bridge starter.