The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Is there a roster spot for both Isaiah Buggs and Carlos Davis on the 53-man roster?
One of the most difficult conversations that the coaches may be having at the end of the preseason is probably going to be what to do at the defensive line position, and whether or not they can really swing carrying seven players at the position. They did do it for most of last season, but with Henry Mondeaux as the seventh, who logged a lot of special teams snaps. He’s likely outside the bubble this year.
Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Tyson Alualu are the obvious locks. As a veteran, Chris Wormley has to be strongly inside the bubble as well, before being re-signed on a two-year deal. Then there’s Isaiahh Loudermilk, a rookie they traded a fourth-round pick to get. They wouldn’t have made that move if they didn’t think it was pretty clear they had a roster spot for him.
If they keep six linemen, which they basically always do, and assuming that Wormley and Loudermilk are making the team, that leaves just one spot on the 53-man roster for Isaiah Buggs and Carlos Davis, a pair of young defensive tackles who have both flashes some potential. Both played pretty well on Thursday night, certainly neither separating themselves from the other.
The question is a simple one: Is there room for both of them? If so, how? Will they keep seven? What position loses a roster spot as a result? If it comes from within the position, is it Wormley who’s the odd man out? And who would be the next defensive end to step in?