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: Antoine Brooks will struggle to make the roster in comparison to other safeties acquired who have been through offseasons before.
Explanation: Brooks was a sixth-round pick in a year with no in-person offseason. The team has other players like John Battle and Tyree Kinnel who have been through an NFL offseason before, and either have practice squad experience or time served in the XFL.
You only have to look at Kameron Kelly last year to know that these other guys have a chance. Kinnel had some success in a professional football league earlier this year in the XFL, which is why the Steelers signed him. Battle has been through the process, and was on the Buccaneers’ practice squad last year.
Brooks? I’m not even sure he’s been in Pittsburgh yet. Sure, he’s talked to coaches and things like that, but there is no substitute for actually working on the field. And he won’t have much opportunity to state his case for a special teams role either without a preseason. Battle at least has been in the organization since the start of the year.
Another important factor here is the fact that the team has cornerbacks in Cameron Sutton and Mike Hilton capable of playing safety, so if Marcus Allen makes the team as a fourth safety, none of them might make it. Under those circumstances, though, he may be favored for a practice squad spot.
Yes, Battle and Kinnel have some experience. But that’s not really saying much. Both were college free agents…just last year. So they have been through the offseason once. Not a huge difference between that and Brooks’ experience level.
And Kinnel didn’t even spend time on a practice squad. Battle signed with the Steelers after the season. He doesn’t know their system or game plan any better than Brooks does. At worst, they are on an even playing field, and likely not even that—Brooks was a player they liked enough to draft, after all. Someone they scouted and liked for years.