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: OL Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: Technically not ‘sold’ of course, but for the purposes of this series, it means that his stock is no longer with the Steelers. Matt Feiler signed a three-year, $21 million contract as a free agent to join the Los Angeles Chargers after spending the past six years (including two years on the practice squad) in Pittsburgh.
Matt Feiler is a 40-game starter, 15 of which have come at guard. That is the position at which the Chargers anticipate him playing, though he told reporters during his introductory press conference with the team that he was not yet told on which side he would be playing.
The former college free agent started 13 games at left guard last season after moving there from right tackle, missing three games due to injury. He started 25 games at right tackle in the previous two seasons, but also started one game at left guard in 2019, which functioned as a prelude to the move.
Feiler also indicated in his press conference that there was some interest from the Steelers about bringing him back, but also that there was an understanding between the two parties that the limitations of the salary cap would have been a major obstacle in getting anything done.
In the end, he signed a very nice contract for himself with good cash flow and guarantees, and joined a team with whom he’s comfortable, in an area in which his wife is happy, so the move checks a lot of boxes for the Feiler family, which is good on him.
And it’s not the worst outcome for the Steelers, either, since they anticipate Kevin Dotson taking over at left guard and likely Zach Banner returning to play at right tackle in 2021. Banner won the right tackle job in 2020 (after Feiler had moved), only to be injured in the opener.
Either he or Chukwuma Okorafor figure to be the starting right tackle, the latter starting 16 games last year including the postseason. In other words, the Steelers could afford to lose Feiler, even though they would have preferred to hold on to him. Their depth is pretty thin, but that can and will be addressed next month in the draft.