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: Former player Arthur Moats would be the second-best outside linebacker on this roster.
Explanation: Arthur Moats, recently retired, spent a good portion of his career with the Steelers, most recently playing for them in 2017. He originally signed a one-year contract before re-upping on a three-year deal, and he spent a mixture of that time starting, and producing when given the opportunity. T.J. Watt is obviously the team’s best outside linebacker, but while Bud Dupree is obviously viewed as the number two, the team even clearly has doubts about his future.
This statement is considering Moats as he last played for the Steelers, circa 2017, and not Moats of today, in retirement, following an injury that ended his 2018 season before it began.
Arthur Moats was always underrated on this team. Were it based on pure talent and production, he would have remained a starting outside linebacker since 2015, when he started most of that year before Dupree entered the starting lineup at the end of the season.
If you actually look at the pressure numbers, he was consistently one of the top two or three players on the team in generating pressure on the quarterback in the form of hurries, hits, and sacks. Moats was no inside linebacker, to be sure, as we found out at the end of 2017, but he could play the run as well.
Dupree lacks the bend and the finish to develop much beyond his current level, which has only outproduced Moats due to the sheer volume of opportunity and not due to skill. Anthony Chickillo is certainly no better, and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi has yet to do anything. There’s a reason they were willing to pay him over $3 million while hardly playing, and it’s not because he’s so nice, even though he is.
Yet there is the reality that he wasn’t playing toward the end of his Steelers career, but rather was serving as an expensive insurance policy. He was even a healthy scratch at times and was primarily contributing on special teams. The team was more comfortable in Chickillo and him knowing where he is supposed to be and what his assignment is. That continues to show in the investment they made in him this offseason.
As for Dupree, his impact goes beyond his statistics. He may have struggled to finish plays on occasion, but he still affected those plays, which was an asset to the defense, and he has been able to be schemed into generating a good amount of pressure himself.
Then there’s Adeniyi, who will have the opportunity to state his own case this year. There is a lot of hope and optimism in him, even the coaching staff talking him up. He hasn’t accomplished anything yet, but he hasn’t had the opportunity to do so. Once he gets on the field, he might be hard to take off.