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: RB James Conner
Stock Value: Even
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert didn’t really address many specific players on their 90-man roster in speaking to reporters yesterday, or at least not as many as I was hoping. Fourth-year running back James Conner seemed to be the player who was talked about the most directly, and…well, it was hard to know what to take away from it.
It didn’t really sound as though the needle has moved at all. Basically, they are still behind Conner as a starter-capable player in 2020, but they are open to adding more players, perhaps players who could potentially take over for him after this season.
That’s…basically what we knew, or at least what we assumed, heading into this process. Conner is a good player, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to get an extension or a second contract, nor does his backstory earn him any leeway (not that he would want it that way in the first place).
Colbert seemed to be more outwardly vocal about Conner in a positive way than Tomlin, but I don’t think there is much to read into that. The former was building off the comments of the latter in responding to a question about whether or not they feel the need to add a running back.
Maybe some will disagree with this, but for my money, there were still games last season, both before and after his first injury of the year, in which he looked like he was the best player on the field. If he is healthy and the offense is executing at a somewhat competent level, I see no reason to believe why that can’t continue.
That said, I think this draft will tell a lot about his future in Pittsburgh. It would be hard to see him getting a second contract if they use a high draft pick on the position, pairing with second-year Benny Snell, and whomever else might ultimately tag along at the position behind Conner.