The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will sign Matt Feiler to a long-term contract this offseason.
Explanation: After establishing himself over the course of the past two seasons as a starting right tackle, Matt Feiler is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this year. To tag and protect him at the second-round level would cost the Steelers over $3 million. I would imagine he could make something like $5 million per season or more on a long-term contract, considering Alejandro Villanueva’s several years ago, given that he was only an exclusive rights free agent.
Not only is Matt Feiler a good right tackle, he is durable. Outside of the game that he did not start in 2018 with the Steelers holding him out of the starting lineup for precautionary injury reasons, he has not missed a single snap.
He is reliable, and with an offensive line that is quickly aging, he is somebody that you could lock in for the next five years or so and not worry about. As a bonus, you could even kick him inside at guard, because he’s entirely capable of playing there as well.
Feiler is quite frankly one of the Steelers’ most underrated players. He’s not about to go to the Pro Bowl or anything, but he is a very competent player, one you don’t have to spend too much time worry about, at least in terms of his knowing what to do and how to do it.
The Steelers have two younger tackles in Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner who have more upside than Feiler does. B.J. Finney will be signed to take over at left guard, so his position flexibility is not necessarily a pertinent issue for 2020.
It’s entirely possible that the team holds another open competition for the starting right tackle spot this year with Feiler, Banner, and Okorafor all participants, and that the results are different this time around. Banner in particular made major strides last season, and Okorafor is due to take a step forward. Remember, it took Feiler four years to even make a 53-man roster, in case you’re doubting Okorafor’s odds of continuing to develop.