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 and other teams around the league should be keeping an extra kicker-capable player on their practice squad this year.
Explanation: Special teams positions, particularly the ‘specialists’, are some of the most-ignored players in all of professional team sports, the guys you don’t notice until something goes wrong. Playing amid a pandemic in which a quarantine can sideline your kicker suddenly, it could be useful to have a spare.
The expanded practice squad rosters make this an easy buy, surely, right? Before this year, teams never had more than 10 players on the practice squad, and even then people have occasionally discussed carrying an extra kicker. Now you have six extra spots and a scenario in which you may more realistically need the extra kicker. You keep him.
What do you do if Chris Boswell is suddenly sidelined with Covid for who knows how many weeks—maybe even for the rest of the season? The Steelers have had their share of ill fortune with kickers in the time between Boswell and Shaun Suisham, after all.
Wouldn’t you prefer to have your desired option already under contract on the practice squad, working with your holder and the whole kicking team? How many times to we hear that every kick is a process with multiple moving parts, not just the kicker?
The reality is there are going to be a lot of kickers who are going to be available on the open market. The real veterans with experience who are not on clubs are probably not going to want to be on practice squads, because it limits their opportunities. They won’t be able to work out for teams, way guys like Boswell and Suisham first got their jobs. So the better kickers are going to be on the market.
Add in the fact that you have to worry about the Covid implications of every other spot on the roster as well and it quickly becomes obvious that those extra practice squad spots are vital. A kicker doesn’t need to know a playbook, so don’t waste time on one.