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: T Joe Haeg
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: The Steelers used their first of two picks in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select tackle Dan Moore Jr. Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm indicated that he expects the rookie to be in competition for a starting job this year, which should imply that he would also be in competition for the swing tackle role, which would presumably otherwise belong to Joe Haeg.
The Steelers evidently decided early on that they would not, or could not, bring back Alejandro Villanueva in free agency. While they are surely optimistic that they would be able to retain Zach Banner, and Chukwuma Okorafor was coming off of 16 starts, they also knew that they needed some depth.
So they got some, signing veteran Joe Haeg as an unrestricted free agent. A former 2015 fifth-round draft pick, he actually started 29 games over the course of this first two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. He would start six of eight games played the year after that, as well. But he has only started three since, in 28 games played.
He seemed to be an ideal candidate to be a cheap swing tackle. But with the drafting of Moore Jr., he will have to compete even to hold onto that role. While we can’t actually even rule out entirely the possibility that he will compete for a starting job himself, it’s equally if not more likely that he ends up losing ground rather than gaining.
Of course, the Steelers went into the draft widely expected to address the tackle position, and in fact no doubt many believed they would address it earlier than they actually did — even as early as the first round.
It’s thus not a surprise in the least that the post-draft stock value of Haeg is down. But it is, nevertheless, and thus is being written about. Whatever role he ends up with, he will have to compete for it, whether it’s a starting job, the swing tackle, or even acting as the eighth or ninth lineman. He has both guard and tackle-eligible ability (he’s logged several hundred snaps at guard over the course of his career), so it’s not an all-or-nothing matter.