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 Rashaad Coward
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The free agent addition of Rashaad Coward is looking more and more unnecessary following a draft in which the Steelers selected multiple linemen, which could ultimately result in him missing the 53-man roster.
If the season were to start today, who would be on the team? The starting lineup would probably look like this: Chukwuma Okorafor at left tackle; Kevin Dotson at left guard; B.J. Finney at center; David DeCastro at right guard; and Zach Banner at right tackle.
That’s your five starters there, with room to change. So who else is making the team? Joe Haeg, a relatively significant free agent addition, should be a given. Their two draft picks, third-round Kendrick Green and fourth-round Dan Moore Jr., are pretty much locked into roster spots.
That’s eight players. Then you have J.C. Hassenauer, who would be the third player capable of playing center, who was on the roster all of last season, and who started several games. Hassenauer is the person Rashaad Coward, signed as a free agent, would have to beat out in order to make the 53-man roster right now.
Coward was originally an undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion, spending the past three seasons as part of the Chicago Bears’ 53-man roster. He was a restricted free agent this offseason, but the team declined to tender him. Primarily a guard, he has started 15 games over the course of the past two seasons, including five last year.
He was only signed to a veteran-minimum deal with no signing bonus, so if he fails to make the team, there will be no loss at all for the Steelers. It’s far from a guarantee that he misses the cut, of course, but if he does, he would make a nice piece for the practice squad, assuming that he doesn’t get picked up by another team, which would certainly be possible.