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: Eli Rogers’ veteran knowledge and familiarity is now more important for the roster without a wide receivers coach.
Explanation: Following the tragic passing of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, the harsh reality is that right now, there is nobody to coach the players at the position, at least at that level. Rogers is the only player who has been in Pittsburgh for more than two seasons, and JuJu Smith-Schuster the only other one how has been here for more than one year, so there are quite a bit of new pieces, which can create complications, exacerbated by disorganization in the wide receiver room with Drake’s death.
Rogers’ veteran presence was going to be valued on the 53-man roster even before this, but yes, it will be even more so, even if only slightly, now. You can’t have so many players who are in their first or second seasons with the team at one position and expect there to be cohesion and excellent and consistent communication. It just doesn’t work that way. It gets built up over time.
And it gets built up internally, too, from players who’ve been through it. Smith-Schuster and Rogers are the only ones in the room who can speak with any kind of authority. Rookie Diontae Johnson has named Rogers as a player that he turns to. I’m sure even Donte Moncrief was shown a thing or two about Pittsburgh does things.
Even if we acknowledge the statement as a possibility at some level, that level would be pretty marginal. For one thing, Drake’s coaching has only been in Pittsburgh since 2018, and guys like James Washington and Ryan Switzer and Tevin Jones have absorbed those messages as much as he has.
As for sheer veteran presence, that’s what Moncrief was brought in for, and he has fulfilled that role rather well, ingratiating himself to his teammates and coaches. Rogers may still make the roster, but this will be only a very marginal factor at best, if at all.