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: The addition of Chris Wormley could have the ripple effect of pushing Tyson Alualu off the roster.
Explanation: The Steelers lost a defensive tackle in free agency with Javon Hargrave leaving. They still need to add one during the draft. Behind their starting defensive ends, they now have Wormley, Alualu, and Isaiah Buggs, who has the highest pass-rush upside of that group. By and large, Wormely could be a younger Alualu.
In case you were wondering, Alualu stands to make $2.75 million in base salary this year. Wormley will make about $2.1 million. If they don’t keep both, they could have some cap savings. And given that they traded a fifth-round pick for Wormley, it’s hard to imagine he will fail to make the roster.
The Steelers told Buggs to keep his weight down this offseason, meaning the plan is for him to play on the end. His body type and skill set are more dissimilar to Wormley and Alualu than they are from one another, so as long as he plays up to roster-worthy potential, the decision of who to leave off could come down to the two older players. It’s already a foregone conclusion that a defensive tackle not currently on the 90-man roster is going to be on the 53-man roster in September.
What is not a foregone conclusion, however, is that Buggs will make the team, or that all of these players will remain static in their current positions. Even Alualu, when first signed, was touted for his versatility to play inside. If he, or Buggs, or Wormley show tackle-capable skills, that should dump Daniel McCullers instead, who is currently the only true nose tackle on the team.
It’s also a possibility that this season they decide to carry seven defensive linemen. It’s very rare, especially for Pittsburgh, but it has happened before, and it’s plausible that they could have some low totals at other positions that would accommodate that addition.