Now that the 2020 is over, a season in which they finally reached the playoffs, but then failed miserably once they got there, resulting in yet another early offseason beginning before the middle of January. It’s not where they want to be, but it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand.
Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen over the course of the year in how it played out, who stepped up, who took steps back, and who will be heading in what direction as we move forward.
The offseason edition of the stock watch includes a lot more variables, particularly when it comes to free agency, contracts, and things like that, so we will be slowing expanding our scope over the course of the next several months.
Remember, a stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB Mike Hilton
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: In what could possibly end up being his final game with the Steelers, four-year veteran cornerback Mike Hilton struggled in their loss to the Cleveland Browns, giving up a touchdown in coverage to Jarvis Landry and missing on a tackle on another long score.
Every time that Mike Hilton would make a play throughout the 2020 season, it was inevitable that a number of people on social media, sometimes even on the broadcast, would chime in and say that he was making a lot of money for himself.
Hilton, having now completed his fourth accrued season in the NFL, is going to be an unrestricted free agent in March, and if he has actually earned a lot of money for himself, then it’s pretty inevitable that that money is going to come from a team other than the Steelers, who have a very trying salary cap situation brewing.
But for as many admirable qualities as he has, Hilton has always had shortcomings in his game, not simply referring to his height. He is an incredibly physical player for his size, and is a very capable blitzer, but he has always been average in his most fundamental assignment as a defensive back, which is coverage.
He also misses a lot more tackles than one might think. Some of that is due to the fact that he is a small player who spends a lot of time playing up in the box, but he misses plays on the back end, too, and we saw him struggle in a number of instances last night in their loss to the Browns.
He still had a career year despite missing four games, finishing the season with eight tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and seven passes defensed, but is he actually going to get paid the way many Steelers prognosticators think? I think it’s fair to be skeptical. Especially after struggling on the brightest stage of his career.