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: If Daniel McCullers can’t beat out Tyson Alualu for the primary nose tackle job, the Steelers should move on.
Explanation: A 2014 sixth-round pick, Daniel McCullers is entering his seventh season with the Steelers, and he has never played more than about 200 snaps in a season, with about 600 or so for his career. He is competing with Tyson Alualu for snaps at nose tackle this year with Javon Hargrave gone.
How long can you hang on to a player who just simply doesn’t offer much? While it’s not a fortune, the Steelers could shave off a bit of cap space if they don’t keep McCullers and his $1.5 million base salary. If he can’t manage to justify being on the field for most of the nose tackle snaps, at this point in his career, then it’s clear he’s never going to be anymore more than he has already been up to this point in his career—and that is a player that they can move on from.
Recently, Keith Butler hinted at the fact that there are some young defensive linemen that they are high on, and he didn’t even want to name them to keep their names off the radar of opposing teams. One might suspect that seventh-round pick Carlos Davis is one of them, and if so, he could serve as the backup nose tackle behind Alualu.
Tyson Alualu is a very capable player, so if he proves to be a better option at nose tackle than McCullers, then that in and of itself is no knock against him. Alualu’s strength is run defense, so his skillset puts him in a good position to transition inside.
McCullers can still line up and take a couple hundred snaps if necessary. He’s capable of that. 1.5 million isn’t an excessive sum for that role. The bottom line is that the Steelers wouldn’t be made stronger out of this 80-man roster if he doesn’t make the 53, so there’s no sense in cutting him.