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 will have Anthony Chickillo back on the field sooner rather than later.
Explanation: The Steelers’ outside linebacker depth took a surprising hit during the bye week when fifth-year veteran Anthony Chickillo, who has been their number three at the position for a few years, was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. She was also charged. Both have since reconciled, however, and their charges were officially withdrawn yesterday. He has been on the Commissioner’s Exempt List since soon after his arrest.
While there is always still the possibility that the league will choose to implement some kind of discipline—the team can as well, of course—given the fact that there are no charges, and there is no disagreement between the couple, there seems to be a clear path to Chickillo being reinstated sooner rather than later, and playing quite soon after that.
This isn’t an issue of practicality. The Steelers nor the league would rush his reinstatement because they need another pass rusher. This simply is a matter of there being no case where previously there was thought to be one. If the couple can agree that there is no lingering issue, then that’s all that really matters.
The Commissioner’s Exempt list is and can be utilized to place players in an investigation off of a roster while an investigation is ongoing. The league can do their own investigation. They have a police report, which does detail that a physical confrontation took plays, and they could decide that there is something there for which to discipline Chickillo that the DA determined does not merit criminal charges.
I think we know quite well by now that a number of players have faced discipline from the league even when legal matters have been resolved without charges. At the very least, the process of reinstatement could linger. And the Steelers could also still determine that they would be best to part ways. He is almost guaranteed to be let go after this season, anyway.