The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How will the acquisition of Chris Wormley affect Isaiah Buggs?
Isaiah Buggs is the first young lineman that the Steelers had been able to successfully work into the mix since L.T. Walton, who was drafted in 2015. While he was expected to be an inactive throughout his rookie season, an injury to Stephon Tuitt opened the door to allow him to see a small bit of playing time through a little over half of the season, averaging about 8-10 snaps per game.
With Javon Hargrave departing, there is still some shuffling to do along the defensive line to figure out where everybody falls into place, but the acquisition of Chris Wormley adds an interesting dynamic. It’s fair to say that they wouldn’t have given up a fifth-round pick if they didn’t intend to play him. How they intend to play him is a different question.
For the past three seasons, Tyson Alualu has been the Steelers’ primary reserve end. Wormley has been something of just that for the Baltimore Ravens for the past two years. Meanwhile, Buggs ended up as the number five lineman once Alualu stepped into Tuitt’s role.
Both Wormley and Buggs are players that the Steelers have said can play inside and outside—in Wormley’s case, this is what beat writers reported when they relayed that they were meeting him on the pre-draft circuit. Right now, the team has five ends and one nose tackle. So will one of Wormley or Buggs be asked to bulk up? Or could Buggs be at risk of losing his roster spot altogether? It’s hard to see him getting playing time right now on a healthy team.