Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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: DT Tyson Alualu
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: At age 33, Tyson Alualu moved inside to defensive tackle in the Steelers’ front and turned in arguably the best season of his career, though his performance suffered late in the year following an injury.
I think anybody would have been justified in being more worried than time would show about how impacted the Steelers would be by losing Javon Hargrave in free agency. One of the most talented and athletic young(ish) defensive tackles in the game, the fifth-year player signed a big contract to travel across the state to join the Philadelphia Eagles.
What did Pittsburgh do? They just slid the 33-year-old Tyson Alualu over from end to tackle and plugged along. Remember back in, say, July or August when we thought that Daniel McCullers might actually be their starting nose tackle?
Alualu went on to play about 450 snaps on defense, registering 38 tackles, including four for loss, with two sacks, a forced fumble, and five batted passes, but really that doesn’t even properly paint the portrait of how well he played for the majority of the season, becoming absolutely integral to the success of their run defense.
It was no surprise that they struggled mightily on the ground in the two games that he missed (outside of a few snaps in the game in which he went down with his injury), but it’s also true that he played a bit of a step down when he returned from said injury.
Now the question is what comes next? Alualu will be 34 in May. He can certainly still play, but will he want to, and at what salary? He hasn’t necessarily been cheap. But as we have discussed herev, the new qualifying contract that was installed in the new CBA is something that could work for both sides as they take the rest of his career on a year-to-year basis.