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: Tyson Alualu has not played his last down for the Steelers.
Explanation: After suffering a fractured ankle in yesterday’s game, thereby positioning him to possibly miss the rest of the season, some have called into question whether the 34-year-old defensive lineman has played his last snap.
First and foremost, Alualu is under contract for the 2022 season, so even if he happens to miss the rest of this year, he can still return next year, and there is no indication that the Steelers don’t view him in their plans for the future. They pitched pretty hard for him to stay in Pittsburgh even after he agreed to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars back in March.
He has become a staple, not just of this defensive line, but of the organization as a whole, and he is certainly a player whom they will stand behind in his recovery. And it’s possible that he will have the opportunity to return this season.
A fractured ankle can heal in a few months, according to people who know better than me. This isn’t like a torn ACL where only the freakiest of freak athletes who only have comparatively minor damage would be able to return in anything resembling a similar timeline.
Ask David DeCastro about the Steelers sticking by their players through injury. That might be harsh to say, but the reality is that they are a business like everybody else, and salary cap realities are harsh. They had to release DeCastro because they couldn’t afford not to.
They might not be able to afford not to let Alualu go a year from now. It’s possible that they could even let him go this year, reaching an injury settlement, likely with some cap-saving benefits mixed on, a topic on which Dave would admittedly be better-informed.
35-year-olds coming off of broken ankles don’t generally make great nose tackles. With such a serious injury, by far the most significant he’s ever suffered in his career, in fact, Alualu may well just decide to call it a day.