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: DE Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Up
I’m not sure if we have even heard from Stephon Tuitt since early October, after he suffered a season-ending injury that put a premature end to what was at the time the most promising year yet. In five games, he had already racked up three and a half sacks, and six tackles for loss. He was on his way to recording another quarterback pressure when the injury occurred early in the sixth game of the year against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Have haven’t heard much from him or about him since then. All we knew is that his injury was serious, season-ending, and required surgery. We assumed, at least, that he would make a full recovery and be on track to return to play for the 2020 season.
That does appear to be the case, as head coach Mike Tomlin recently addressed his status while speaking to fans through Steelers Nation Unite. He said that Tuitt is going really well, and that they expect him to be ready for the start of the year—and of course, as with almost everything, he’s ‘excited’ about it.
In recent seasons, the burden has fallen upon the shoulders of Javon Hargrave to pick up a lot of the slack when Tuitt has been injured. Now that Hargrave has departed in free agency, much of the burden of replacing him falls back on his own shoulders.
It is a great shame that the man has not had a fully healthy season literally since his rookie year in 2014. In every season since then—every year in which he has been a full-time starter—he has missed at least two games due to injury. Often, those injuries were lingering and affected his performance when he did return.
The first five games of the 2019 season perhaps offered the most accurate glimpse of who a fully healthy Stephon Tuitt is as a football player. Here’s to hoping that we get at least 19 games of it in 2020—or 20, if required.