Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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: Sold
At least to this point in time, the Steelers have released three players this offseason in order to help them become compliant with the salary cap in time for the start of the new league year at 4PM today. The most predictable of those releases was that of sixth-year veteran outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract in 2019 that featured a 2020 base salary of $5 million.
Originally selected in the sixth round of the same 2015 NFL Draft in which the team drafted Bud Dupree in the first round, the contract that the Steelers gave Chickillo last year seemed doomed to be a one-year pact, given how back-heavy it was. Reportedly, the New England Patriots were sniffing around him, so that may have factored.
The only conceivable way he might have played under that contract would have been if Dupree had played poorly enough that they would not want to retain him in 2020 and beyond, which would allow him to remain on-board as a possible bridge starter, a role that he has served in the past.
But, outside of the fact that he was arrested during the 2019 season (stemming from a misunderstanding with his partner), last year also marked his lowest levels of defensive contribution, which did not bode well. While he was a core special teams player, the Steelers obviously can’t afford to pay a special teamer $5 million if he’s not going to be offering much else.
Chickillo was an ‘upside’ guy when they drafted him, somebody who played heavier in college than he wanted to. The thought was that slimming down and moving to a two-point stance would allow him to maximize athleticism he was limited in displaying during his college career at Miami.
It would be odd to say that a sixth-round pick didn’t live up to his potential. The reality is that he was a very solid sixth-round pick for the five years of service that they got out of him. Here’s to hoping he catches on and finds a role with somebody else, even if it does nothing for the Steelers’ compensatory pick formula.