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: DE Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Even
This one is hard to quantify, for obvious reasons. At the outset of the 2019 season, Stephon Tuitt looked primed to have a career year, and he was well on his way toward doing just that—until he suffered a season-ending injury early into the sixth game of the year.
Over the course of the first five games, Tuitt already had 22 tackles, including six for a loss, with three and a half sacks and six quarterback hits. He only got five snaps into the sixth game, however, before he was stricken with the injury that would land him on the Reserve/Injured List.
Now a six-year veteran, Tuitt entered the starting lineup at the end of his rookie year, but that is also the last time that he has played a full 16-game season. He has missed at least two games in every other year, missing four in 2017. He suffered a significant shoulder injury on just the second snap of that season, but ultimately played through it.
He came back from that to have a strong season last year, so that should serve as optimism that he can come back and play at a high level in 2020. The concern, of course, is about him getting injured again, because that has frankly been a pattern for him going back to college.
It’s fine if it’s the sort of short-term nagging injuries that he has had for most of his career, but he now has had two serious injuries within the span of the past three years, and it goes without saying that that can’t become a trend.
He will play an even more important role in 2020, assuming he’s healthy, with the expected departure of Javon Hargrave, who absorbed a lot of the snaps that became available with him being sidelined. Both Hargrave and Tyson Alualu, the latter under contract for 2020, were invaluable in keeping things together in his absence.
But a pairing of Tuitt and Cameron Heyward, healthy and on the field together, could be a wrecking crew for this defense next season and beyond. That was what they envisioned back in 2014 when they drafted Tuitt, and we’ve obviously seen the signs. It would just be nice to see it sustained over a full year.