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: S Marcus Allen
Stock Value: Up
So far, the best thing to happen to Marcus Allen in the past year has been Kameron Kelly getting arrested. It cost the first-year safety his job and allowed Allen to be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster at the end of last season, which puts him in better position for 2020.
Originally drafted in the fifth round in 2018 out of Penn State, the larger safety has so far found it difficult to find his path upward in the organization. While he was kept on the 53-man roster as a rookie, as the number six safety, he was a healthy scratch almost every week, though he did get to play on defense in one game as the dime defender—with mixed results.
In 2019, thanks in no small part to depth at cornerback (and at other positions), Pittsburgh only kept four safeties, with Kelly acting as the third safety, and veteran Jordan Dangerfield edging him out for the fourth spot. While he played over Dangerfield the year before, the latter has become a staple special teams player.
Behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers don’t have much safety depth right now, however, with Allen and Dangerfield rounding out the top four players at the position. Sean Davis is technically on the roster but will surely sign elsewhere in free agency. The others are Tray Matthews and John Battle, a pair of practice squad-level players.
Even if the team does address the safety position in free agency or the draft, Allen should still stand a better chance of making the 53-man roster again in 2020. For one thing, they will probably have fewer cornerbacks with Artie Burns leaving.
Depth at other positions, like the offensive line and at linebacker, figure to be weaker as well, at least in terms of sheer numbers, with the anticipated releases of Anthony Chickillo and Mark Barron, and prior losses of Fred Johnson and Patrick Morris.
Outside of the numbers battle, Allen also believes that he did get better over the course of the 2019 season on the practice squad. He has dealt with some injuries during his first two offseasons, so his greatest hope starts out with just being healthy to get a fair shake at it. Failing that, he could have a future in the XFL—if there is one.