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’s move inside to guard this past season ultimately hurt his market value.
Explanation: Aside from the fact that tackles are generally paid better than guards—even if there is more balance between left and right guards than there is between left and right tackles—one can certainly make the clear case that Feiler’s performance at guard was below that of his play at tackle, and thus his higher level of play rests further back in his tape, and people’s memory.
This is a pretty clear-cut case of flexibility hurting value. Feiler now has a full season of guard under his belt, but it came amid an awful season by the Steelers’ recent standards as far as offensive line play goes. His play was a part of that, even if it wasn’t atrocious like some will suggest in the comments below.
Feiler was quietly making a bit of a name for himself as a no-name but efficient starter at right tackle in 2019 before he was moved inside. He could have gotten a fairly decent paycheck for himself had he been allowed to remain there and develop further, but the reduced quality of play, the lesser tape, and the absence of more extended work at his superior position will ultimately result in teams valuing him less in March than they otherwise would have.
Teams have scouting departments. For the most part, anything that a fan of some team knows, the scouting department is going to know about players from other teams. It’s literally the pro personnel director’s job to study people that they might want to acquire from around the league at some point.
In other words, anybody looking for a tackle while have already known about Feiler’s 25 starts at right tackle between 2018 and 2019. And on top of that, they now also know that he is guard-capable, giving them options to move him around.
When Willie Colon was a free agent, I believe it was the Chicago Bears who wanted to sign him and move him to guard, before the Steelers actually moved him to guard. Teams won’t have to make a projection about Feiler’s ability to play tackle if they want to sign and pay him as a tackle.
Add in his versatility and there’s no reason to think he’ll have hurt his value. It might simply be that his value isn’t what some Steelers fans anticipate it might be.