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: S Antoine Brooks
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to explore the veteran safety market, recently hosting former first-round pick Malik Hooker after having done the same before the draft with Karl Joseph, which doesn’t speak well for what role Antoine Brooks might play in his second season.
While it probably shouldn’t be assumed that a sixth-round pick who spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad ought to be bracing for a much-expanded role the following year, it is not a great sign for Antoine Brooks that the Steelers are continuing to look at veteran safeties to add depth to the position.
Given what little they have behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds, it seemed as though the former Maryland product might have a shot at getting some meaningful playing time this year. Neither Sean Davis nor Jordan Dangerfield were retained from last season.
For a while, the only other safety on the roster was John Battle, who was on the practice squad last year. He was released after the draft, during which they drafted Tre Norwood in the seventh round and signed Lamont Wade and Donovan Stiner as college free agents, then signed veteran Arthur Maulet after the draft.
While the Steelers list Maulet as a safety, he may wind up being their slot defender this year, as he has played both roles over the course of his NFL career. The fact that they are still looking at players like Hooker suggests that they are not entirely satisfied with their top backup option, however.
And, again, that should be no surprise, because they frankly shouldn’t. You don’t count on a player like Brooks to step up—if he does, it’s a bonus, but you can’t operate under the assumption that it happens, so you plan accordingly.
As for the man himself, it remains to be seen how he develops. Another similar player, Marcus Allen, converted to linebacker last year. They spoke of him as that sort of hybrid player when they drafted him last year. But, again, they already have that in Allen—and in Miles Killebrew as well, whom they list as a linebacker, even though he plays safety, too.