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
Reasoning: Reports from Mike Tomlin and Cameron Heyward have been positive about Stephon Tuitt’s recovery process from a torn pectoral muscle and indicate that he should be more than ready to go for the start of the 2020 season.
You’ve probably heard it a couple dozen times by now, but the return of a healthy Stephon Tuitt is as big of a deal for this Steelers defense as was the loss of Javon Hargrave in free agency. Tuitt may be the most talented player on the entire defense, or at least in the top three—T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick would give him a run for his money—but his health has been the biggest thing holding him back.
Last year, we did get to see what five games of a fully healthy Tuitt would look like while he was in the prime of his career. It looked pretty damn impressive. If the Steelers get a full season of that player out of him, then he will be joining Heyward in the Pro Bowl.
He big man already had three and a half sacks and six tackles for loss in the first five games of last season. He could have had a double-digit season for sacks, easily, and could have hit near the range of 20-plus tackles for loss, at the pace that he was going. He was the best player on the entire unit by the time he was injured.
Heyward said that Tuitt was making great progress in his recovery before the pandemic hit, and even mentioned that some of them had gone down to train with him. Tomlin has also commented on his status, and all indications are that he should be as good as he was at the start of last season.