2021 Offseason Questions: Is Tyson Alualu An Underrated Free Agent?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Is Tyson Alualu the most underrated Steeler who is scheduled to be a free agent?

More than in the vast majority of years—and perhaps in any year in recent years—the Steelers have quite a number of significant free agents coming up, who could command significant contracts in free agency, from JuJu Smith-Schuster to Alejandro Villanueva.

Keeping any of them will be difficult, if not impossible, but lower-note players like Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, or even Matt Feiler, would be more realistic signings, and they have been discussed a fair bit. In theory, Tyson Alualu should be a relatively simple re-signing, as well.

Is his re-signing being taken for granted, however? And how important is his role within the team relative to his free agency status and projected dollar worth? How much would the Steelers suffer if they were to lose him, compared to some other potential losses?

Alualu, after all, became the team’s starting nose tackle last year, and they don’t have any other experienced options. Do you want Carlos Davis to be playing 350 or so snaps in 2021? Because that would certainly be one possibility in the event that Alualu were not brought back. I expect him to return, but that’s not what the discussion is.

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