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Buy Or Sell: Steelers Must Still Upgrade Safety Depth Even After Losing Out On Malik Hooker

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: Despite losing out on Malik Hooker, the Steelers still need to upgrade the safety position before the start of the regular season.

Explanation: While the Steelers have one of the better starting pairs at safety in the league, their depth is highly suspects, or at least untested. They have previously shown interest in Malik Hooker, who was the best available player at the position, but appears to have landed in Dallas.

Buy:

Just to start things off, it’s looking like at least one of their top two safeties is probably going to be their slot defender, so that alone is going to expose him to hundreds of snaps of potential injury. Antoine Brooks Jr. and Arthur Maulet right now are projected as the top two backup safeties, but they’re also the top two projected nickel slot defenders.

That basically takes one of them out of the equation, because he’s going to be practicing in the slot all the time, since, you know, that’s where he’s going to be playing. And the rest of the safeties are all rookies—Tre Norwood, Donovan Stiner, and Lamont Wade.

You simply have to have another veteran in there. Maulet might end up being their top backup safety, but that’s not something they should be comfortable with. They have to try to upgrade, even if it means trading, which they almost always do at least once this time of year.

Sell:

It’s one thing to try to better your team, something I’m sure the Steelers are always doing, and another to view an upgrade as necessary. And the reality is that, relative to what is available out there, there isn’t much in the way of talent at safety that will be a clear upgrade to what they already have.

Technically, they did add a safety in free agency in Miles Killebrew, who is capable of playing there. He’s taking over the Jordan Dangerfield role of special-teamer, who was the second safety last year.

And it’s not as though their trade history is littered with success stories, so adding a body just for the sake of doing so, when you do have alternatives like moving Marcus Allen back there, or even playing Cameron Sutton there, is like doing something for the sake of saying you did it, rather than actually making anything better.

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