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: Free agent signing Stefen Wisniewski will be the Steelers’ primary starter at left guard in 2020.
Explanation: As of the time of this writing, it is not known under what terms Wisniewski signed, other than the fact that it is reported to be a two-year contract. The Steelers declined to match an offer to retain B.J. Finney for what is reported to be a two-year contract worth up to $9.5 million, so it’s likely the deal for Wisniewski came in under that figure. Matt Feiler is a primary candidate to move over from right tackle to left guard.
One of the guiding principles of offensive line play is that you don’t toy with one position to fix another if you can avoid doing so. With the Steelers losing both Finney and Ramon Foster, they had a hole at left guard, and Wisniewski’s signing can prevent the team from having to move their starting right tackle to a position where he has only started one career game.
While he has not been a primary starter in recent years, however, the former second-round pick has over 100 starts under his belt for his career, including 32 over the past four seasons when factoring in the playoffs. He started each of the Kansas City Chiefs’ postseason games in 2019 en route to a Super Bowl victory.
The only reason Wisniewski moved into the starting lineup at the end of last season was because the Chiefs’ starting guard Andrew Wylie suffered a high ankle sprain. He only started two regular season games last year, and seven the year before that with the Philadelphia Eagles, despite being active for all 16 games. He started the first four games but was then demoted, moving back into the lineup for the final three games, again, due to injury.
One fact about Feiler that a lot of people may not realize is that, for the majority of his time in Pittsburgh, going back to 2015, he has worked at guard. Even last summer, he spent a lot of time working at guard while Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor took tackle reps. He is and has been as much a guard as he is a tackle. The only difference is that the starting opportunity arose on the outside, so he ended up playing there.