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: A shortened, limited in-person offseason will force the Steelers to make more conservative roster decisions, such as leaning on veterans.
Explanation: While talk is beginning of reopening facilities, we still figure to be a month or more out before players can actually enter the building, and by then, the window for Spring workouts will be over. That at least hints at the possibility for a full-schedule training camp, but that is still a relatively limited window, and is not even guaranteed.
The Steelers, at least some would argue, tend to favor veterans over ‘promising’ young players anyway, so it stands to reason that further restrictions will cause them to be even more conservative. Just look at Tuzar Skipper last year. He just barely made the roster, and he needed the entire offseason, including the final preseason game, to get on the 53, only to be waived a couple days later for a veteran special teams wide receiver.
This is why I’m not writing guys like Trajan Bandy and Carlos Davis into my 53-man roster predictions any time soon. The Steelers have so many more experienced players at these positions, some of whom they still need to see or get a deeper look at, that there will be few opportunities for young players to even get in front of the coaches.
Conversely, the truth is that this ‘virtual’ offseason program is giving young players a greater opportunity to have one-on-one time with their position coaches, and to impress them in ways that don’t have to come in a team environment.
Granted, these guys will be behind the curve when they step on the field for the first time. But the coaches will know them, and if they were able to make an impression through their knowledge and insight into their position, then they are going to be given their opportunities to translate their skill from the classroom to the field. As long as there is a full preseason—and the Steelers do have an extra preseason game this year—there shouldn’t be any greater bias against inexperience than usual.