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 shouldn’t waste time on the decision to release Donte Moncrief.
Explanation: Though he was a relatively significant signing in free agency, brought in on a two-year, $9 million contract, sixth-year veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief has already fallen out of favor and has been inactive twice, only active recently due to mounting injuries elsewhere. It is believed that his release would allow the Steelers to recoup the compensatory draft pick they would be eligible for due to the loss of Le’Veon Bell in free agency.
This is about as no-brainer as it gets. Moncrief is a guy that the Steelers are not even comfortable dressing right now. They pretty much know already that they’re not going to pay him the $4 million due him in 2020 to be, at best, a number four wide receiver behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington, the latter two under contract for at least two more years beyond 2019.
Regardless of whether or not he is capable of contributing, as a practical matter, he is nothing but an expensive bench-warmer right now, and while it won’t save them money this year because his base salary became guaranteed at the start of the season as a vested veteran, it will be valuable for them in terms of caps space saved in 2020 and a very valuable third-round compensatory pick, which is likely something that they were counting on when they made their trades for Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Just because he’s on the bench doesn’t mean he should be. He got off to a rough start with some baffling drops and failures to make contested catches in traffic, but he hasn’t been given the opportunity to redeem himself.
This week would seem to be a fitting one to get that opportunity. Washington is dealing with a shoulder injury, while those behind are contributing nothing of value. Moncrief at least has experience on his side to call upon. He was making plays throughout the offseason; there’s no reason to believe he’s suddenly incapable of continuing to do so. Even if he might have some inconsistency, it’s hard not to see him being a potential upgrade over some of what is currently being fielded, provided that his finger is not a detriment to his abilities.