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: For the 2019 season alone at least, Steven Nelson was the biggest offseason addition the Steelers made.
Explanation: Pittsburgh was uncharacteristically active this year in all phases, signing free agents, making trades, and moving around in the draft. The most expensive move made was signing cornerback Steven Nelson in free agency.
While the team made a number of additions, many names can be safely eliminated. Donte Moncrief, for one. Mark Barron, for another. Neither of them are full-time starters. Nick Vannett is a number two tight end. Diontae Johnson is far from a finished product.
The two names that need to be debated are Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick, which, between the two of them, cost the Steelers first-, second-, and third-round draft picks. When talking about Bush, though, you also have to talk about Barron, and so the two do cancel each other out a bit. Fitzpatrick was an injury replacement for Sean Davis, so it might even be cheating a bit to throw him in there in that way.
For Nelson, however, he comes in and solidifies a role that has been a problem for half a decade or so, if not more. While he’s not making the Pro Bowl, while he hasn’t intercepted any passes yet, he has been a stabilizing force like no other, and there isn’t another player on the roster who could have stepped into the role.
Yet Bush and Fitzpatrick are the ones producing more tangible results. Both of them have forced a pair of turnovers, the former with two interceptions, the latter with an interception and a forced fumble, and Bush even has four fumble recoveries. Both of them are also important communicators in the group.
Nelson can be schemed around, if offenses would be so inclined. And they wouldn’t. I’m pretty confident in saying that when offensive coordinators game-pan for the Steelers, they spend more time thinking about Bush and Fitzpatrick than they do on Nelson.