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: Jordan Dangerfield will be the Steelers’ third safety this year and play if there is an injury.
Explanation: There are only two backup safeties on the roster with experience, and one of them spent most of last year on the practice squad after getting beat out by a futures signing. Dangerfield has been around for a long while, biding his time, and has a couple of starts under his belt.
Dangerfield’s defensive capabilities are better than what he is often given credit for. There is no reason that he can’t function capably as a box defender. The Steelers even had a package for him to do that in 2018 against run personnel, as he came on to replace a cornerback in a 3-4 front.
The big thing, though, is that there isn’t any competition. Marcus Allen has had two years to make an impression. He didn’t play when he was called up last year following Kameron Kelly’s arrest. Antoine Brooks is a late-round rookie who is learning the defense without physical reps.
Dangerfield is the been-there, done-that guy. Maybe they would make some adjustments if Minkah Fitzpatrick were to go down, but he could fill in at strong safety, as he has in the past. That’s certainly as likely a proposition as the other current backups.
The Steelers have had opportunities to play Dangerfield in the past that they didn’t take. Like when Kelly bypassed him on the depth chart last year. There is also the reality that they have talked about Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton as possibilities to play safety. They even used Hilton at safety in the preseason last year, and he looked the part.
Then there is Brooks. Maybe he’s a fast learner. The Steelers think he is. He seems to be a Dangerfield-esque player in many ways, only younger and with more upside. And it’s not like Dangerfield didn’t take years to make the roster. Allen had some injuries in his first couple of seasons. He’s not written off yet.