The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
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: Trai Turner will have a bounceback season with the Steelers.
Explanation: An eighth-year veteran, offensive guard Trai Turner has been to the Pro Bowl five times in his career, but he has not played at the same level, at least consistently, for at least the past few. Injuries have played a role in that, especially last year, which resulted in his being cut, before signing just a one-year, $3 million deal with the Steelers, and only after they ‘lost’ David DeCastro.
There is a notion that Trai Turner is washed up, and it’s rather a silly one. The man is only 28 years old. The fact that he hasn’t played a healthy season in 2016—he has missed at least three games every year since then—has a lot more to do with his performance than a gradual degradation in talent.
The reality is that we do see these sparks of his Pro Bowl-level play. He is fully capable of putting a defensive tackle on his butt, and he knows what he’s doing in pass protection. Once he gets settled in, he should be recognized as an adequate alternative at right guard, even if he doesn’t necessarily return to his ‘Pro Bowl’ form.
Players who deal with injuries year after year tend not to stop having those issues, so even if we take as a given that nearly all of his downgrade in play in recent years can be chalked up to health, the odds of him making it through a 17-game season healthy are low.
Beyond that, he simply is too inconsistent, and being in a new system with a rookie center to his left and a right tackle who leaves something to be desired is not going to help him regain any past glory, either. The Steelers signed Turner because they were desperate for the best available veteran at a time when the pickings were slim. They only gave him $3 million, and they’ll get what they pay for.