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: Last night’s game was a preview of what the Steelers’ offensive line will look like in 2020 or 2020.
Explanation: The Steelers have been lucky to have been able to keep such a good offensive line together as long as it has, but changes are slowly coming. Matt Feiler was already a new addition. Ramon Foster’s future, at least in the starting lineup, isn’t guaranteed beyond this year, and Chukwuma Okorafor was drafted to be groomed. B.J. Finney is a free agent in 2020.
Whether next year or the year after that, this is what the line is going to look like. The wildcard is Finney, but he has put together four years’ worth of spot starts, and is going to be able to make some money in free agency.
Ordinarily they might pay him knowing that Foster is done, but with Feiler’s fantastic versatility and the excess of talent at the tackle position, the investment is better spent elsewhere. Okorafor didn’t take much of a step this offseason, but he was already doing solid work for the most part as a rookie, enough that they could work with. By next year or the year after, he’ll be at that level where they would feel comfortable with him as a full-time starter. And Feiler, who’s only in year three, will be starting one way or another. He’ll be cheaper at guard.
The essential ingredient in this scenario is that Okorafor proves to be capable of being a full-time starter, and through a season and a half, he hasn’t put on tape strong enough indications of that being in his future. Zach Banner could still be the more realistic tackle option if it’s not Feiler.
And I still don’t know what exactly went into the thought process of putting together last night’s offensive line that led them to leaving Finney out of it, but there’s no question that they don’t have a better or more proven lineman on the bench. The front office knows 2020 is the year they have to pay and play him because of his free agency status, and they will do that.
Or, you know, Foster’s just going to keep playing. He would only be 35 in 2021. It’s not like he’ll have an AARP card by then.