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: Matt Feiler will be re-signed and will start somewhere along the offensive line in 2021.
Explanation: While it will be difficult for the Steelers to swing many signings in free agency, they know that they can’t afford to lose many offensive linemen, and Feiler is a versatile piece that they would probably like to keep, depending upon his price tag.
There is a real advantage to retaining a player who can offer starter-level play both inside and outside along the offensive line, while also having had the in-game experience of doing that. That is what the Steelers have in Matt Feiler, someone whose value they have recognized for a few years now.
One can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons they so easily let B.J. Finney go this offseason is because they valued Feiler more and they sensed that he would be the one to see a second contract with the team.
But bottom line is that the Steelers have enough questions along the offensive line that, as long as they re-sign him, he will be starting somewhere. The only place he wouldn’t be able to start is at center, presumably, simply because he hasn’t developed the game-ready ability to snap the ball.
This could go one of two ways: either he’s valued more than most people think, or he’s valued less than most people think. And we’ve surely seen both scenarios play out in the past. Who thought Tyler Matakevich would get the deal he got last year, for example?
If Feiler comes in with even a moderate offer on the open market, then he’s going to be gone, and Pro Football Focus was right for highlighting him as a typical value free agent signing who is not going to break the bank but can also really shore up a weakness.
On the other hand, perhaps he’s not that highly-regarded. Suppose he comes back and actually has to compete to start? He certainly would have to compete with Kevin Dotson to retain his left guard job. Then you look at tackle and you have Chukwuma Okorafor with a year under his belt. Zach Banner could come back and take that job. Okorafor could get kicked to the left side. Or they could draft a rookie who comes in and starts, and instead, Feiler is left serving as a super sub at four positions. That would be a nice luxury to have for sure.