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: RB Wendell Smallwood
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: Pretty self-explanatory here. The Steelers signed running back Wendell Smallwood as a street free agent on Tuesday after first-year defensive back Arrion Springs was placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list.
Unlike most signees at this time, Wendell Smallwood is actually a veteran player, having originally been a fifth-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016. He has logged 52 career games since being drafted, recording 931 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 233 carries over a four-year career. He has also caught 56 passes for another 452 yards and two receiving touchdowns.
Smallwood’s most productive season came in 2018 during his final season with the Eagles. That year, he started six games, recording 364 rushing yards on 87 attempts and 230 receiving yards on 28 receptions, scoring a total of five times.
Importantly, he is also capable of being a special teams contributor. He has logged over 200 snaps in each of the past two seasons, including last year with the Washington Football Team. He has also done a limited amount of work in the kick return game, averaging over 25 yards on 16 career returns, though that is slanted due to a long 86-yard touchdown as a rookie.
A player of his veteran status is far more likely to be able to make the team than a first-year street free agent. The Steelers already have a crowded backfield with Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Anthony McFarland, and Kerrith Whyte, among others like Trey Edmunds.
It was honestly surprising that the Steelers signed a running back given the depth at the position. There’s a good chance that Ralph Webb will be released soon in relation to this move, if he isn’t already released by the time this article runs (it was written in advance).
Smallwood has been a free agent since March after Washington did not attempt to re-sign him. The nature of the offseason has made it difficult for players like him to hook up with teams, but with training camp being the first in-person activity, it’s hard to say he’s missed much for someone who has four years of OTAs under his belt already.