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: Tuzar Skipper will make the 53-man roster (and stay there all season).
Explanation: Last year, Tuzar Skipper had to be invited to rookie minicamp just to earn a chance to compete for a spot on the offseason roster. Then he played his brains out in the preseason and made the team…but was released before the opener. He did get claimed, but ultimately found his way to the Giants’ practice squad. When Pittsburgh came calling again, he was an inactive.
Last year, Skipper was a bottom-of-the-roster rookie with marginal experience on special teams and at a position where there were already four players ahead of him. This time, he comes in with a year under his belt, with a veteran in Anthony Chickillo who was ahead of him now gone, and with much more familiarity with his roles on defense and special teams, ready to contribute.
While they drafted a player in the third round at his position, this is not the year to be a rookie coming in looking to make a contribution. Is Skipper way more experienced than Alex Highsmith? No, but at least it’s been inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex before and has met face-to-face with Keith Butler and company.
Any player who is on the third-string unit at his position is on the roster bubble, at the least, and perhaps even on the outside looking in. This year, there are a lot of extra positions to consider, and with the extra roster spots on the practice squad, and the ability to promote two players to the gameday active roster, guys like Skipper being on the 53 have less value.
While Chickillo may be gone, and Highsmith may be a rookie, the latter has a 100 percent chance of being on the team, and there is still Olasunkanmi Adeniyi ahead of him. This year, they could be looking at four running backs, six wide receivers, five safeties, potentially even seven defensive linemen. Bringing in Highsmith made him a lot more expendable.