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: Even
Even though I fully expect that Mark Barron will be released before long, I don’t want to argue that his stock is ‘down’ until we get to that point, because if we look at the season that he had, I feel as though we got basically what we ought to have expected, even from before Devin Bush was traded for.
Signed to a two-year, $12 million deal last offseason, Barron, the veteran inside linebacker who had come up from safety when he was originally drafted, functioned as a starter for the vast majority of the season a year ago. He largely relegated Vince Williams to situational work suited more for running situations.
Barron’s snap count did dip in the final weeks of the season, but for the heart of the year—and while they were posting their best record—the veteran didn’t come off the field very much. Make no mistake, there were absolutely flaws in his game, and there were times where he was a liability, but taking his entire performance globally, he ultimately turned in a solid year that evened out over the course of the season.
That said, his salary in 2020, combined with the fact that they are going to effort to re-sign Bud Dupree, likely initially to the franchise tag, means that cuts are going to need to be made, and Barron is right at the top of the list with Bush and Williams right there already. There are also some young guys in Ulysees Gilbert III and Robert Spillane coming up, in addition to the special teamer in Tyler Matakevich.
Barron posted 82 tackles on the season, four for a loss, with three sacks (tying a career-high), an interception, three passes defensed, and a fumble recovery. They certainly can and have done worse with their money on the open market.
Presuming that he will indeed be released, the Steelers will save $5.25 million in cap space, but he will still account for almost $2.9 million in dead money from the signing bonus that he received in 2019. His one season will ultimately cost them $6.75 million in both cash and cap space over 2019 and 2020. He pocketed $6.75 million last year, with a $5.75 million signing bonus and $1 million base salary.