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 actually rotate along the defensive line this year.
Explanation: Whether or not the Steelers are going to rotate in reserves more along the defensive line and let guys like Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt get more rest is an annual topic. The answer is pretty much always no, though injuries factor into that. This year, they have a good amount of depth that should be better-equipped to step in.
The combination of Chris Wormley going into his second season with the Steelers in a much better place mentally and physically, the second-year projected growth for Carlos Davis, and the drafting of Isaiahh Loudermilk, to me, all add up to more rotating going on upfront.
And with the ability for teams to dress more players beginning last season (up to 48), that even gives them the option of dressing six linemen, which increases the odds of rotating more. Depending on how fast Loudermilk develops and how they feel about his ability to contribute, they may well do that.
Heyward is 32 years old. While he’s still playing at a high level, he’s no young pup. It’s time to manage his reps. And Tyson Alualu is 34 years old as well. Stephon Tuitt is still young, but he also has an injury history, and you want to keep them all fresh.
Especially as we move into a 17-game season.
Rotations are a luxury the Steelers can’t afford. While their depth might be more solid than, say, at outside linebacker, the reality is that they’ve drained their talent with the losses in the secondary and on the edge, and they can’t afford to have their best players spend too much time on the sideline.
I hope I’m not being too controversial in saying this, but Wormley and Loudermilk are not Heyward and Tuitt. Davis is not Alualu. These are three of the best 3-4 defensive linemen in the entire NFL. It’s arguably the single strongest position group on their entire roster. They need their big dogs to eat, because it’s how they’re going to win.