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2021 Offseason Questions: Who Will Start At Right Tackle?

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: Who will start at right tackle?

As things currently stand, the Steelers are likely to have at least two different starters along the offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement makes at least one a guarantee, but Alejandro Villanueva is very likely to leave in free agency as well. Matt Feiler has a good chance of leaving, too, and if he is brought back, it could be for a position switch.

David DeCastro is the only definite to start where he did last season, while many have gravitated to Kevin Dotson moving into the starting lineup at left guard, which leaves the rest of the line in flux, with right tackle having the most options.

The way I see it, there are three realistic options to start there, even though two of them are pending free agents. Obviously, Chukwuma Okorafor is a strong possibility, given that he started 16 games there last year and is under contract.

Then there is the possibility of Feiler returning to start at right tackle, something that he did for 25 games between 2018 and 2019. Finally, Zach Banner, who is recovering from a torn ACL, was the opening-day starter there last year. He seems confident that he’ll be re-signed and given a chance to compete for the job.

I suspect that any tackle they might draft would be oriented to the left side, and increasingly, teams have been willing to throw them into the mix right away, so I think the right tackle is more likely to be the veteran, assuming they draft a tackle, rather than move one of them over to the left side.

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