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: TE Vance McDonald
Stock Value: Even
It’s hard to say what the future holds for Vance McDonald in light of the signing of Eric Ebron, who agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with the Steelers. I don’t think we can automatically conclude that one of them is more likely to remain in Pittsburgh in 2021 than the other.
After all, they both have a somewhat similar scouting report. Both tight ends have a fairly significant background with injuries. Ebron is more of a threat to make a big play and score, but also has worse hands, dropping more footballs, and is easily the more inferior blocker of the two.
It’s for this reason that I’m currently leaving his stock as even, because frankly we won’t know more until the 2020 season plays out. He already got a boost prior to the start of free agency when the Steelers restructured his contract, which was an obvious signal that they intend for him to be on the team in 2020.
Still, not only was his contract restructured, he also took a slight pay cut. That is an obvious indication that the Steelers were open to parting ways with him, and, at the very least, that he is on notice, that he must perform, and perform more consistently, if he intends to stick around much longer.
The 2020 season will be an audition for him, in his fourth season with the team, to make good on his potential and show that the 2018 season wasn’t a fluke. The 2019 season has largely been written off altogether due to the poor quality of play at quarterback.
McDonald himself was open about how disappointed he was in the past season, not just for and in himself but of the entire offseason. He did acknowledge that Roethlisberger’s absence played a huge part in it, but he also knows that he did not live up to his end of the bargain, either.