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: G Trai Turner
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers recently officially signed free agent guard Trai Turner to a one-year deal reportedly worth $3 million to replace David DeCastro as their starting right guard.
It’s not often that you can cheaply replace a six-time Pro Bowler with a five-time Pro Bowler, but that’s what the Steelers were able to swing when they waived nine-year veteran guard David DeCastro with a non-football injury designation, and quickly turned around and signed Trai Turner.
Turner has been to the Pro Bowl five times (every year between 2015 and 2019) before missing extended time due to injury last year. He claimed recently while still a free agent that he is now fully healthy and ready to go.
He will have to be, given the Steelers’ situation, as he is replacing their only stable piece along the offensive line. But with DeCastro needing surgery on his ankle and now contemplating retirement following his release, it’s not as though they had many alternative options.
Turner was clearly the best guard-capable offensive lineman available on the open market, at least based on his history, but he also hasn’t been the same player he once was a bit earlier in his career. Specifically, his injury history has robbed him of some consistency, which he must find again.
Now, make no mistake, the Steelers were able to buy low on Turner. He was released by the Los Angeles Chargers earlier in the offseason in the final year of a four-year, $45 million deal. He was averaging more than $11 million per season—basically his and DeCastro’s salaries combined, and they saved about $5 million by swapping the two.
Even though he is the newest man in the building, he is also the most experienced along the line, and that is going to be important when you have a series of starters who haven’t started much. Zach Banner has one start, Kevin Dotson four, and Kendrick Green zero, as a rookie. Chukwuma Okorafor has 18 starts, but only due to injury. They can use whatever veteran leadership a 95-game starter can provide.