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 will open the season with seven defensive linemen.
Explanation: With the team carrying all seven defensive linemen who finished last season on the 90-man roster, and then drafting Isaiahh Loudermilk in the fifth round, if the Steelers were ever to enter a season with seven defensive linemen, this would be the year.
Henry Mondeaux is the wildcard. If he makes the team, the Steelers are carrying seven, because he is a special teams contributor in a way that no Steelers defensive lineman has been since the early days of Brett Keisel. Unlike the vast, vast majority of linemen who play on special teams, he actually plays on coverage and return units.
Mondeaux was on the 53-man roster for 11 games last season. He logged 182 snaps on special teams. That’s a lot of time and worth a roster spot, and they have too much talent not to carry more. Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Tyson Alualu are the givens, of course, but then you have more to consider.
They re-signed Chris Wormley for a reason. They drafted Isaiahh Loudermilk for a reason. At least one of Carlos Davis and Isaiah Buggs is going to make the team. Can three of those four make the roster, in addition to Mondeaux? Given the potential for room at positions like cornerback, outside linebacker, or wide receiver, there’s room for it, and the case to be made.
There is a little something called the practice squad. Chances are, two of the names above are going to be on there. Loudermilk may have been a draft pick, and they may have even given up a fourth-round pick for him, but that doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the roster, either.
And if Loudermilk makes it, that could be at the expense of Wormley, even if they did give him a two-year contract. Cutting him would still save some cap space, and the idea is to put the best roster together.
And Mondeaux is more likely to start the season on the practice squad than not, like so many other players who have been called up for special teams before, like Trey Edmunds. They’ve added linebackers and defensive backs who can play on special teams. You don’t put a defensive lineman out there for fun. Generally, it’s because you’re low on alternatives, even if he shows he can handle it.