Player: Matt Feiler
Position: Offensive Line
Experience: 4 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2020 Salary Cap Hit: $3,259,000
2020 Season Breakdown:
After a career of toiling away on practice squads, Matt Feiler finally cracked the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster in 2017, at which point he had primarily spent his time lining up at guard. In-season need arose that ultimately led to him playing more tackle, and by 2018, had become the primary backup, and eventually, substitute starter.
He would go on to have 25 overall rather successful starts at right tackle between the 2018 and 2019 seasons—and one start at left guard. That game came against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, and it convinced the coaching staff that they could move him inside and develop another starting right tackle after long-time left guard Ramon Foster retired.
And so it was that Feiler would be the team player and move to left guard in a contract year in 2020. While it wasn’t a position that was new to him, it is one that he hadn’t spent a whole lot of time playing in recent years, and he confessed that he had to so some re-learning.
He even talked late in the season about getting used to the assignments that come along with playing inside rather than outside, particularly the pull blocks that are a cornerstone of the Steelers’ running game—at least when they work.
The overall consensus has been that Feiler’s time spent at guard was not as successful as his play at tackle. But he still played at the level of a starter, and showed that he was capable of playing at that level at multiple positions—and just as he heads into unrestricted free agency, in a market where a number of teams will be looking to fill holes in their offensive line with an affordable starter.
Free Agency Outlook:
Of course, the Steelers will be among those teams looking to fill some spots along their offensive line with affordable starters, but will it be at guard? They already have David DeCastro, while 2020 fourth-round pick Kevin Dotson looked poised to take over at left guard—and they’re certainly not going to stick any of these guys at center to take over for Maurkice Pouncey.
If the Steelers do look to re-sign him, it would be to address a deficiency at tackle, especially with Alejandro Villanueva set to depart. Chukwuma Okorafor could potentially be moved to left tackle, allowing Feiler to move back to right tackle.
Or, equally or more likely, he could be starting for somebody else later this year, either at guard or tackle. While it didn’t work out in the end, just consider the contract B.J. Finney got from the Seattle Seahawks last year. Feiler is a far more proven starter than Finney was at the time, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be afforded even more attention for his services as a result.