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: DB Lamont Wade
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: While he shouldn’t be chalked up as a favorite to win any job, Lamont Wade’s speed and multi-phase versatility will potentially make him a hard player to cut come September based on what he’s shown in recent weeks.
The Steelers are looking for a starting nickel back. They are also looking for nickel depth in general, and safety depth. And depth in the return game, on top of that. Lamont Wade can be all three things. Listed as a safety, the 5’9” Penn State product has been described as a safety with the body of a cornerback, who spent time in college playing in that slot role.
It’s probably fair to estimate that he is not currently in the driver’s seat to emerge as the Steelers’ fifth defensive back this year. The reality is that they need depth all over the place, and it’s not abundantly clear who shakes out where.
They will inevitably keep 10 defensive backs, at least. The locks are Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Terrell Edmunds. That’s it, but there are safe bets like James Pierre and perhaps Antoine Brooks Jr., if only due to the lack of safeties.
Beyond that, it’s very much up in the air between the likes of Justin Layne, Tre Norwood, Shakur Brown, Mark Gilbert, Arthur Maulet, and Wade. But Wade skews to the more athletic end of that group. He told reporters that the open slot role is one the reasons he signed with Pittsburgh.
And then there’s the returner role. While he didn’t do much returning in college at all, he has that profile, and the Steelers have been looking at him there as an option. At the least, he could be the backup return man behind Ray-Ray McCloud. But the bottom line is, the more hats he can wear, the more likely he’ll have the job to afford them.