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: The Steelers need to sign a veteran safety.
Explanation: The Steelers have lost their only two veteran reserve safeties since last season, with just Antoine Brooks Jr. and John Battle returning. They did sign two safeties as rookie free agents, but Brooks, with all of 29 snaps, is the only one with any experience.
The Steelers brought in veteran safety Karl Joseph for a free agent visit prior to the draft. Although they did not sign him (he ended up returning to the Raiders), it showed that the Steelers see safety as a need. The draft hasn’t changed anything, since they didn’t address the position.
If the Steelers feel like they need a veteran safety, then they probably do, plain and simple. But if they didn’t, they would be wrong, at least to assume that they don’t and just trusting that they could piece together an acceptable depth chart with what they have.
Brooks is the only one with any kind of experience, and when the Steelers drafted him, they said he was half a linebacker. That’s certainly not somebody you’re going to play at free safety any time soon. When you call a player that, you’re identifying that you consider his skill set to be niche and limited. That’s just not enough.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Steelers need a veteran safety. And they have time to find out. While they may not have drafted a simple true, straight-up safety, they did draft Tre Norwood, a versatile defensive back whose skill set does translate to playing the position.
They also like versatile backs who can play both spots, and Cameron Sutton is one of them. He could spot start at safety if need be, for one thing. For another, we can’t discount what they already have on the roster. Brooks might not have speed, but he has instincts, and he could play if they modify their coverages. Their college free agent safeties were also considered draftable by some. They might as well find out what they have first before looking at what they don’t and spending valuable cap space.