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: OL Stefen Wisniewski
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Mike Tomlin told reporters that Matt Feiler would get the first snaps of training camp at left guard.
Though Tomlin may have cited a desire to rely upon veteran experience at the outset of camp in deciding who would be taking the first reps, it does say something that he is opting to start off with Feiler at left guard, which means that Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner will be splitting time at right tackle—and Stefen Wisniewski will be running with the second-team unit.
A veteran at now 31 years old, Wisniewski signed with the Steelers earlier this offseason following the decision by Ramon Foster to retire. Veteran reserve B.J. Finney also left the team to sign for more money with the Seattle Seahawks, where he will compete for a starting position.
Despite the fact that he has started over 100 games in his career, he is nevertheless a new face on the team, new to the system, and he has even acknowledged that the nature of this virtual offseason has provided some obstacles in becoming indoctrinated into the Steelers’ scheme.
Then again, he was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs midseason last year and ended up starting the final five games, including a victory in the Super Bowl, so perhaps he knows a thing or two about learning on the fly.
Evidently when Tomlin talks about relying on veterans, he’s talking as much or more about their time specifically in Pittsburgh and in the system, not just simply how many training camps they’ve been around, because Wisniewski, it’s fair to say, has been around the block.
The Steelers didn’t guarantee him a starting job, by any means, when signed, but he did say that they told him he would compete for the job. And he will. But he just won’t get the first crack at it—and perhaps they might even favor the combination that allows Wisniewski to be more readily available for the swing interior reserve role.