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: The Steelers are among the most ‘complete’ teams in the NFL right now.
Explanation: I think we are pretty much past the point in which any team can really have no weaknesses. There is too much money being thrown around against the salary cap for teams to afford to insulate every position on the team. Some will do better than others, particularly as starting lineups go. How do the Steelers fare?
Well, the Steelers have arguably the best defense in the league, so that’s a good start. They technically lost two ‘starters’ in Javon Hargrave, who will be replaced by the experienced Tyson Alualu, and Mark Barron, whose release will allow Vince Williams to return to the starting lineup, so this is more of a reversion than a change.
Then you have T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. You have Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. You have Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. These three duos are among the best you’ll find in the NFL at their respective positions. Throw in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush and you have yourself a party.
Even with some regression, they still have a top-10 offensive line at a minimum. They have a franchise quarterback who is actually healthy now, and a series of position groups absolutely chomping at the bit to shut people up. I’ll absolutely take this squad as one of the most complete in the NFL, with depth at wide receiver and running back and two quality tight ends—even a fullback.
So much of this talent, however, is still quite young and unproven, even untested. James Washington and Diontae Johnson are still relative fledglings. Even JuJu Smith-Schuster is not solidified in his place as a number one receiver. And the backfield has plenty of questions, as do their tight ends. One of the questions for a lot of these guys is simply, can they stay healthy?
And that’s where depth comes in. Because if you have players who are liable to miss games, you need depth to really be complete. With Alualu taking on a bigger role at nose tackle, that takes something away from other areas. Terrell Edmunds is still a question mark at strong safety. Williams is limited where he is, and they have no experienced depth anywhere at linebacker or safety. The offensive line depth has taken a hit as well. And the backup quarterback position…no es bueno.