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 is a roster lock to make the team.
Explanation: The Steelers have four safeties returning from last season’s 53-man roster. After adding two this offseason, they feel like they are likely to carry five into the season. Dangerfield has been with the team longer than any of them, and is the most-veteran player outside of Curtis Riley, in addition to being one of their staple special teams players.
The Steelers lost Roosevelt Nix, Anthony Chickillo, Tyler Matakevich, Sean Davis, L.J. Fort, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Johnny Holton, among other players, from their special teams units over the past two seasons. This year, they’ve had only a few weeks of on-field work and no preseason games to figure out how to put their special teams units together.
This is not the time to voluntarily remove one of your most important special teams players from the equation. Dangerfield is one of the few players who brings consistency to the unit. And it’s not as though he is entirely incapable of playing on defense. If he had to get on the field, he could do a representative job of it and not hurt the team. He just hasn’t been in that position for a while.
The fact that the team has been willing to readily move on from players like Nix, Chickillo, Heyward-Bey, and Holton should tell you something. They know that, while you don’t want to have a lot of turnover on any unit, special teams is still a secondary priority, and you can make do with what you have to, as long as you have the right players.
They have brought in guys like Derek Watt who will be contributors. Marcus Allen, rookie Antoine Brooks, and the veteran Riley are all capable of logging a significant number of snaps on special teams at the safety position alone. I would still say that Dangerfield is more likely to make the team than not, but he’s not a lock, in part because I think they want to keep Brooks growing. Plus, Allen’s versatility working at inside linebacker gives him a further edge.