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: At least one of the XFL players that the Steelers have signed will spend some time on the 53-man roster this year.
Explanation: The Steelers have already signed more players from the XFL this offseason than they did from the AAF a year ago, and they ended up with two players who spent time on the 53-man roster from that group. One of was released after an arrest, the other only promoted before the final game of the season.
In a year when all rookies are going to be short-changed without an offseason, any XFL player is going to have an advantage. They have been through the league at least once before, if not multiple times, for one thing, and additionally, they’ve also played professional ball—even if at essentially a minor league level.
Some of the signings also come a positions in need of depth, such as at outside linebacker (presumably, at least), center, and safety. With only six draft picks to make, there is some opportunity to make some headway for these XFL players.
Take the recently-signed John Keenoy, for example. Right now, he would be competing only with J.C. Hassenauer as the number three center. Hassenauer was the AAF player who was promoted before the final game of the season a year ago. Not exactly unbeatable competition.
While there may be some spots that can still be reinforced in terms of depth, the Steelers have filled out their roster in a number of different ways. They have several wide receivers, for example, who were on the practice squad last year.
It’s very likely the Steelers draft a center-capable player this year, so even Hassenauer would be lucky to make the roster. They don’t need more than four safeties, but they could still draft one, and they also brought in John Battle, who has some potential.
They have eight XFL players on the 90-man roster right now. It’s unlikely that they bring eight to training camp, even assuming there is one, because some will be replaced by signing undrafted free agents after the draft.