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 find their replacement for Javon Hargrave in free agency.
Explanation: As of the time of this writing, the Steelers’ definite salary cap situation is still unclear because we don’t know if they did maximum restructures on the six contracts they are known to have played with. So we don’t know how much cap space they are working with as they approach the remainder of the offseason, and thus how likely it is they can add a veteran ‘starting’ nose tackle.
With limited draft resources, it’s likely that the Steelers are going to do what they can to find a replacement for Hargrave among the unrestricted free agent class. The defensive tackle market has been pretty stout so far, with a number of names coming and going, but there are still some names to consider.
Among the names that might be considered are Damon Harrison, depending on what his market is. He had a huge cap hit last year, but he and the Lions mutually parted ways. He is now 32, and has been available for almost a month.
More realistic options would include Al Woods, a former Steeler, who is now 33. The name of Andrew Billings has been kicked around a lot by Steelers fans. The fact that he only just turned 24 is very desirable.
The defensive tackle market has proven to be more robust than anticipated, and not just at the top with players like Javon Hargrave and D.J. Reader re-setting the nose tackle salary scale. A guy like A’Shawn Robinson checked in with compensation much higher than many anticipated.
That could prove to be the same story for guys like Billings, and especially Harrison, who has been regarded as a top run-stuffer for years. a player like Danny Shelton could have made sense, getting $8 million over two years, but those players are exiting the market already.