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: C Maurkice Pouncey
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: Maurkice Pouncey revealed on Friday that he would be retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL, and nine Pro Bowls. At once one of the dominant players at his position, he was part of the nucleus of this Steelers team for more than a decade, and in many ways will not be easily replaced.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have saved about $12 million in salary cap space this offseason without even lifting a finger thanks to the retirements of tight end Vance McDonald and center Maurkice Pouncey, money that was very much needed, and which might perhaps spare them from actually having to cut anybody—though that could still come.
While McDonald was a serviceable tight end for his four seasons in Pittsburgh, Pouncey, on the other hand, was part of this team’s lifeblood. He was a leader among the players and an ambassador for the locker room through the media. He was a representative for the NFLPA. He was looked up to.
And he was a pretty darn good football player, as well. Now, his quality of play may have slid in recent years—the bad snaps over the past two seasons in particular have been a head scratcher, even if he has always had his moments—but as a whole, nobody can deny that he had a great career as an individual performer.
The 18th-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey was actually in some ways more than just a draft pick. He was also a symbol, a statement of intent. He was the first piece of the puzzle in the Steelers’ commitment to rebuilding the offensive line, a much-needed endeavor, and he was the leader and focal point.
Finding another starting center is just one part of the equation. Filling the void that Pouncey leaves behind him in this roster is more complex than that, given how much he meant to the team. You can see the level of respect that he commanded based on how the entire organization reacted to the news, and the deference given to giving him the opportunity to choose his own time to reveal the news.