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: WR Deon Cain
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Since the drafting of Chase Claypool, which obviously resulted in his stock taking a hit, there hasn’t been anything of note to say about him. But that’s not always a bad thing. And with a stunted offseason, it will be even more difficult for the rookie to contribute.
Will Deon Cain make the 53-man roster? If he does, what will his role be? The Steelers picked him up in the second half of the 2019 regular season after JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a knee injury that kept him out for four games, so he got the opportunity to play a bit and made some catches.
Since then, they’ve drafted Chase Claypool, but given the nature of the offseason, and the potential that there may only be a very abbreviated preseason, one could argue that that increases the likelihood that Cain will be valued, as a player with a couple of seasons of NFL learning under his belt.
I could make the argument, then, that Cain’s stock is ‘up’ in that regard, and perhaps it is, even if relatively slightly. How many live reps will Claypool even get a chance to run through by the time the regular season starts? We can’t rule out the possibility that he spends some time as a healthy scratch, because even learning special teams will be slowed down.
That as much as anything is leaving the door afar for the former Colt. He was able to put down some positive tape down the stretch last season. This offseason, he gets to actually learn the offense. But either way, he has two more years of experience than any rookie does (even if his own rookie year was spent on IR).
Add in the fact that the Steelers do usually keep six wide receivers rather than five (including a guy not dissimilar to Cain, Justin Hunter, for two years and often as a healthy scratch), and you can make a positive case for the young man who has a lot of fans in Pittsburgh with a small body of work.