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: Multiple free agent signings will fail to make the 53-man roster.
Explanation: So far this offseason, the Steelers have signed the following players as outside veteran free agents: B.J. Finney, Joe Haeg, Rashaad Coward, Kalen Ballage, Miles Killebrew, and Arthur Maulet. All but Maulet came before the draft, during which they addressed all of these players’ positions.
I think the odds are high enough that I would consider putting money on it. The only ones who are close to locks here are Finney and Haeg, who should be the top backups along the line. Coward will be battling with J.C. Hassenauer as the ninth lineman, with Dan Moore Jr. as, at worst, the eighth.
As for Ballage, he probably has to hope the Steelers carry four running backs. Najee Harris is obviously a lock. Anthony McFarland is almost a sure thing for his potential and connection to Matt Canada. And they still like their Benny Snell Football.
Miles Killebrew is listed as a linebacker by the Steelers. They have re-signed Vince Williiams and drafted Buddy Johnson since he was signed. You have Devin Bush and Robert Spillane already there, plus Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III. Too crowded to have any confidence here. Maulet is closer to secure than either of the previous three mentioned.
This is not a team that has enough depth to be picky. Hassenauer was basically an emergency option after Stefen Wisniewski didn’t work out last year. As far as Coward goes, the expansion of the game-day roster makes him potentially more valuable, because he could dress as your backup guard, with Finney (or Kendrick Green) your backup center. Hassenauer would be easier to stash on the practice squad, too.
Ballage improves the run game in a key area the Steelers have been looking to address, which is short-yardage. And the trend has been to carry four running backs. So I think that’s pretty safe, especially with shortages elsewhere like at outside linebacker and cornerback.
Then you have Killebrew and Maulet. They don’t have any safeties behind their starters. Killebrew is a hybrid safety-linebacker, and they’ve been talking about wanting these pieces for years. He’s also a special-teamer, the new Jordan Dangerfield perhaps. Maybe one of these players misses the cut, but not two.