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: OL Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Up
Things are set up pretty well for Matt Feiler as he heads into his contract year. The long and short of it is that it’s hard to imagine he’s not going to be starting somewhere. Whether that comes at right tackle, where he has been the primary starter for the past two years, or at left guard, remains to be seen.
That largely depends on what other players do. The Steelers are already comfortable with the possibility of him starting at either spot. With some of the turnover from last season, however, they are trying to determine which is the best combination for them.
And I have a hard time imagining a best-case offensive line that features both Stefen Wisniewski and one of Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner in it. One of these players will be a starter this year, not multiple, barring injuries.
Or at least, if would be very surprising. What are the odds that Feiler loses out on not only the left guard job, but the right tackle job? Very remote. For starters, the Steelers don’t want to be changing things if they don’t have to. If Wisniewski is up to speed at left guard, he may start.
The real variable is about the future. They really would like to have a long-term starter between Okorafor and Banner, and if that is to be the case, one of them has to get into the lineup, somewhere. It would be in the team’s best interests if Feiler ends up being moved inside to guard, because the most likely explanation would be that they have somebody else capable of being the right tackle.
Feiler has already played through some unusual circumstances. In 2018, he was an injury replacement, and wasn’t even the gameday backup when Marcus Gilbert was healthy, dressing in street clothes. Last year, he had to block for three different quarterbacks. Moving positions would almost seem like run of the mill to him at this point. And I should note, as I try to whenever this subject comes up, that he has played extensively at guard during the offseason periods over the years, including the preseason. In fact, he’s played far more preseason snaps at guard than at tackle over his five years here.