Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: DL Daniel McCullers
Stock Value: Even
This is an interesting offseason for Daniel McCullers, who has been with the Steelers for a surprisingly long period of time already. I believe he has six accrued seasons now under his belt after originally coming into the league as a sixth-round pick. But he really doesn’t have a whole lot to show for it, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon.
Still, the reality of this offseason is that the Steelers are expected to lose their starting player at McCullers’ position in free agency. Javon Hargrave is likely to cash in quite handsomely in free agency, which will be good for the team’s compensatory draft pick equation in 2021, but bad for their on-field needs.
Hargrave played a critical role last season after Stephon Tuitt was lost for the year due to injury after five games. He has really raised his game, especially over the course of the past two seasons, quite enough to raise his profile to the point where he should receive a premium salary as a starting defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense.
The long and short of it is that it’s hard to imagine McCullers won’t have a roster spot in 2020, since it would likely mean the Steelers will have to make not one but two additions to the defensive line to really threaten his employment.
Chances are they will make a concerted effort to acquire a new starting defensive tackle, such as an Andrew Billings, in free agency, or failing that attempt to draft a player who can compete for the starting job right away, as Hargrave did four years ago.
The only possible competition McCullers may have is from Isaiah Buggs, a 2019 sixth-round pick, but considering the team asked him last season to drop weight, it doesn’t seem as though they are viewing him as an interior player. Plans could change, of course.