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 find room for Kerrith Whyte even after the running back room is fully healthy.
Explanation: It is very uncommon for any team to have five halfbacks on their roster at any point in a season. I can’t recall a time the Steelers have ever had that amount at any point in a season during the modern era. Whyte is the latest number five, but he showed a spark on Sunday, and there is no obvious need for his roster spot to be used elsewhere in the immediate future.
The running game looked about as good, and as explosive, during yesterday’s game as it has at any other point in this season. And that was thanks to the least likely guys, Benny Snell and Kerrith Whyte.
Whyte, a rookie signed off the Chicago Bears’ practice squad, had only been with the team a little over a week when he was given the opportunity yesterday to throw his hand in the pile and contribute. He responded with a couple of impressive runs, finishing the day with 43 rushing yards on six attempts, including a 21-yard run on his first career touch.
He showed off that speed that nobody else at the running back position has, which alone is enough to keep him around. With Ryan Switzer gone, he’s also their kick returner now. Special teams means roster spot. Plus, with Roosevelt Nix gone, there is an extra roster spot, anyway.
Before we start jumping off of bridges in Whyte’s name, let’s gather some perspective. For starters, only two of his six carries went for successful plays. And the Cincinnati Bengals have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. They had allowed more explosive plays—twice as many as the nearest—than anybody else on the ground this year.
As far as the return game goes, when have the Steelers ever put much thought or effort into this? Tony Brooks-James was the kick returner just before Whyte and he was cut. Whyte can be cut, too. That spot could be used when Maurkice Pouncey returns from suspension. They could also decide to sign a sixth defensive lineman, since I can’t recall when they’ve ever gone with five before.