Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: ILB Mark Barron
Stock Value: Down
Mark Barron is, truth be told, a player that we haven’t discussed enough in this series, especially in light of the fact that he has played a significant amount of snaps this year. Recently, with the Steelers bringing their dime defense back, they have been using the veteran linebacker as the lone man at his position on the field.
But while he did have a good game last week against his former team, the Los Angeles Rams, he had a rough outing against the Cleveland Browns, in a game that included his giving up a touchdown to a player who didn’t have a catch in his career beforehand, which really put the nail in the Steelers’ coffin.
Signed as a veteran free agent to a two-year, $12 million contract in the offseason, Barron has seen a lot of playing time, but hasn’t necessarily been the most productive player. He does have 51 tackles with a sack and an interception, but this doesn’t factor in his penalties, his missed tackles, or the average depth of his tackles (6.3 yards). Other than sacks, he only has two tackles for loss on the year.
Barron has not come in and been the player the Steelers were hoping that he would be, and I think it’s pretty likely at this point that he will be released in the offseason because of the sizable cap hit he will wield in 2020. He will count over $8 million against the cap, including $5.25 million in base salary and roster bonus that they could save with his release.
That would leave them a little thin at the position, of course, with only Devin Bush and Vince Williams, and they limit Williams’ exposure in passing situations because of his athletic limitations. It would be too much for them to expect a lot out of Ulysees Gilbert III in his second season. Anything they get from him is a bonus, not something you count on while making offseason preparations.