The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How many of the 2019 starting offensive line will still be on the team in 2022?
Both Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro have contracts that run through the 2021 season. Ramon Foster’s contract runs through the 2020 season, as does that of Alejandro Villanueva. Matt Feiler is set to become a restricted free agent this year.
When the regular season begins, DeCastro will be 30, Pouncey 31, Foster 34, Villanueva 31 (shortly thereafter turning 32, and Feiler 28. So after the next two seasons, we’re talking 32, 33, 36, 34 (essentially), and 30.
How many of these players will still be on the team? It’s easy to believe that as many as three or more of them could be gone by that point. In fact, Foster could be gone within a month. Pouncey has said many times he will retire when Ben Roethlisberger retires.
As far as Villanueva goes, who’s to say? Will they let him play out his contract before they decide if they want him for even longer, when they have a few younger tackles, including Feiler, who did a more than able job at right tackle for the past two years?
It was a priority for the Steelers to build an offensive line that would carry Roethlisberger through the rest of his career. By and large, it looks as though the Steelers were successful in doing that. But is it all going to fall apart once he’s gone? Who will be blocking for the next starter? Will any of these players? DeCastro is the most likely to still be around, followed by Feiler, then Villanueva.