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 re-signed Tuzar Skipper will remain on the 53-man roster for the rest of the season.
Explanation: The rookie out of Toledo started making an impression once the pads came on, and then left his mark on the preseason, leading the league with five sacks. The Steelers liked him enough to protect him by keeping him on the initial 53-man roster before waiving him to move him to the practice squad. Before re-signing him, however, they had a chance to claim him off waivers themselves, and elected not to, several weeks ago.
While his re-signing did coincide with Olasunkanmi Adeniyi missing practice this week with a concussion, the reality is that the Steelers parted with two outside linebackers in the days leading up to the move. Jayrone Elliott, who had been on and off the 53-man roster all year, was off again a few days beforehand. Sutton Smith, one of their late-round rookie draft picks, was also released from the practice squad for the second time in short succession.
Skipper is one of five outside linebackers in the organization right now, and it’s rare that they ever have fewer than that. The roster has also largely stabilized due to injury. He was re-signed following the injury to defensive lineman L.T. Walton, and the reality is that there is no sixth lineman worth signing to not dress for games anyway.
The fact that they could have claimed him off waivers weeks ago but did not shows that they are not enamored with Skipper, and that alone makes him vulnerable. By passing over him, the Steelers allowed about 20 or so other teams (whoever was behind them in the claim order) to have a shot at him.
Once again, he is the low man on the totem pole. Once an injury arises, he could be the first to be cut. When Maurkice Pouncey returns from suspension, they could favor retaining Patrick Morris as well. They could waive him and try to re-sign him to the practice squad, or re-sign Smith.