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: CB James Pierre
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: According to Sports Illustrated’s Noah Strackbein, the second-year cornerback has looked good during OTAs, taking a step forward from his rookie season.
Ordinarily, the assumption is that any player who makes it to his second season is going to show some development. You know a lot more your second time around than you do when you’re experiencing everything new.
The fact that a player like James Pierre, a college free agent who didn’t have the benefit of a proper offseason, or even a preseason to show his talents, was able to make the team last year is pretty remarkable in and of itself—and perhaps speaks well for his natural talent.
In order to make good on that, of course, he has to continue to improve, and at least according to one Steelers beat writer, Noah Strackbein, he has been looking the part through three weeks of OTAs as the team prepares for mandatory minicamp this week.
And it comes just at the right time, with a starting job open for the nickel defender role. Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton are gone. Cameron Sutton steps into place, but the defense needs another defensive back. Based on how last year finished, and on what they’ve added this offseason, he may have already been the leading candidate, since he did play in the postseason game.
But each season is its own entity. What Pierre did last year doesn’t mean anything this year if he’s not getting better and better. There’s still a long way to go before he earns a regular defensive role, but we’re early in the process, so we base our evaluations on what is available, which right now is OTAs.
While the Steelers didn’t add any major names, they have given themselves a number of options. Justin Layne is entering year three, and they signed Arthur Maulet in free agency. Tre Norwood was added at the end of the draft, while Shakur Brown, Lamont Wade, and Mike Gilbert were signed as college free agents—the same way Pittsburgh found Pierre a year ago.