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 Tuzar Skipper
Stock Value: Up
Considering the fact that he didn’t even get signed after the draft, the fact that Tuzar Skipper is on a 53-man roster clearly means that his stock is up based on where he started from. The edge defender out of Toledo was only signed by the Steelers after being invited to attend their rookie minicamp.
Once he got his foot in the door, and the shoulder pads came on, he started drawing some attention in training camp. Then when they got inside stadiums, he proved to be a minor menace at times, registering a league-high five sacks, while also producing two forced fumbles. In the finale preseason game, he also showed that he was capable of playing on special teams, and his run defense was a present element of his play as well.
He did well enough that the Steelers elected to keep him on the initial 53-man roster as one of 10 total linebackers, but they waived him shortly before the regular season began, hoping to move him on to the practice squad, in order to re-sign special teamer Johnny Holton. It remains, quite frankly, unclear why they didn’t just keep Holton on the roster in the first place, unless they feared Skipper would be claimed amid the first wave of releases.
He got claimed anyway, of course, and spent most of the season with the New York Giants. He even got some playing time, and recorded a sack, but his opportunities dwindled, he was a healthy scratch, and he was then waived again.
This time, the Steelers didn’t put in a claim for him—in fact, nobody did—and he sat on the Giants’ practice squad for a while. Pittsburgh later did finally sign him off the Giants’ practice squad to the 53-man roster, in a move concurrent with their placing L.T. Walton on injured reserve, deciding that they could go on the rest of the season with five defensive linemen.
He said he was thrilled to be back. Here’s to hoping he has a full offseason to re-establish himself, to learn the defense, and to give himself the best opportunity to make an impact with the team in 2020, whether on defense or special teams.