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 other extra gameday helmet not reserved for an offensive lineman will (often) go to dressing an extra defensive lineman.
Explanation: In the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the gameday active roster was altered that allows teams to dress up to 48 players, up from 46. The 48th player is reserved for dressing an eighth lineman, but the 47th spot can be used for anybody on the roster. The Steelers almost never dress more than five defensive linemen, but dressing six would allow them to keep the front lines fresher. And they have more depth this year as well.
I have often thought that 3-4 teams are shortchanged a bit by the inactive list, in that it makes it difficult to dress more than five defensive linemen. This almost guarantees that one has to have a backup nose tackle that is also capable of playing as a 3-4 end, but if you are able to dress six linemen, you could more easily have that more exclusive role.
This year, behind Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers retain Tyson Alualu and Isaiah Buggs at end, but have added Chris Wormley to the mix. While Javon Hargrave has departed, Daniel McCullers could play nose tackle, and Alualu has been talked about for that role. They also drafted Carlos Davis.
While Heyward and Tuitt are premium talents, there are plenty of times during which the Steelers would like to give them more rest. Having another lineman on the sidelines would help them do that, and Wormley makes it more appealing.
There is obvious logic behind the desire to dress six linemen. There is always a desire to dress as many players as possible, because it gives you options. But the fact of the matter is that there are other players who would be more likely to contribute than a sixth linemen. Such as anybody who would play on special teams.
I can easily see teams also taking this as an opportunity to start dressing three quarterbacks again. Previously, teams could only dress 45 players, with a 46th being a third quarterback who dresses for emergencies, before they changed it to allow teams to dress whatever 46th player they wanted. Most teams stopped even carrying a third quarterback after that.