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: OLB Anthony Chickillo
Stock Value: Down
Anthony Chickillo missed three games due to injury in 2019. Then he missed time because he was on the commissioner’s exempt list following his arrest stemming from a public alteration with his fiancée during the Steelers’ bye week. The team elected not to release him, and he was ultimately cleared of charges as he and his fiancée worked things out between themselves.
Amidst all this, his impact on the team, and the defense, lessened. He didn’t play 20 snaps on defense in even a single game all year, though he came close a couple of times, typically seeing between 15-25 percent of the team’s snaps in the games for which he was active.
He did remain a core part of the Steelers’ special teams, typically seeing around 20 snaps per game in this area of play as a four-phase player. On the season as a whole, however, he registered just 11 total tackles, most of them assists, with none for a loss. He had one sack and one quarterback hit.
It was easily the least productive and least impactful season that he had since his rookie year, and it comes just in time for him to be released, or so many assume. Chickillo will count over $6 million against the salary cap in 2020 with a $4.5 million base salary and a $500,000 roster bonus that will become active on the third day of the league year, March 20.
Pittsburgh can clear $5 million in salary cap space, prior to displacement, by releasing Chickillo, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team last year. His year-one cap hit was under $2 million, including a base salary of $805,000, and just under $1.1 million in signing bonus.
He’ll count about that much in dead money in 2020 if released due to his signing bonus, but the Steelers were well aware of this when they signed him. Likely, it was done as protection against Bud Dupree having a bad year and their having no alternatives. But now they will almost surely release Chickillo in order to have cap space to sign Dupree.