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: Both Quincy Roche and Jamir Jones will make the 53-man roster.
Explanation: The signing of Melvin Ingram vastly impaired any hopes of bottom-of-the-roster edge rushers’ hopes of making the 53-man roster, securing a strong top three at the position. The X-factor is Cassius Marsh and how much the coaching staff values him as a veteran, or if Ingram will simply take over that veteran role—and if Roche and Jones can mitigate his special teams contributions.
At the end of the day, you keep talent, and really, Quincy Roche and Jamir Jones have been two of the Steelers’ better defenders during the preseason over the past three games. They’ve certainly made more of an impact than has Marsh.
As mentioned in the explanation, the signing of Ingram makes Marsh’s ‘veteran’ presence vastly more insignificant. I’m sure that room can get by with T.J. Watt and Ingram, a pair of three-time Pro Bowlers, running things as Alex Highsmith and the first-year guys develop.
And here’s the thing: Jamir Jones has literally played more special teams snaps than anybody else on the roster this preseason (with four tackles). Roche has a high snap count as well, though not as high, and without any tackles. But a draft pick will be favored anyway. And he only played kick coverage, not punt coverage.
The odds of two players with zero experience making it at the same time over a veteran who has a lot of experience, and with special teams value, are pretty low. Marsh has consistently run ahead of the young guys the entire offseason. It’s clearly shaping up to be one or the other between Roche and Jones, and that’s assuming the Steelers even keep five outside linebackers.
That’s the other key here. Do they even keep five? Because that’s the bare minimum requirement here. Watt, Highsmith, and Ingram are stone cold locks, so if you only keep four (which is a very realistic possibility, given the depth elsewhere, including inside linebacker, and the defensive line, with Carlos Davis as a special teamer now), then it becomes an impossibility to carry both.