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: Isaiah Buggs is cementing himself as the Steelers’ future nose tackle with his play this year.
Explanation: Once Tyson Alualu was injured early in the season, Pittsburgh was left with few options to play nose tackle, but Isaiah Buggs, a player whom most considered on the roster bubble, had stepped in and taken over that role.
Full disclosure, I’ve always liked Isaiah Buggs as a player as soon as they drafted him out of Alabama in the sixth round in 2019. I thought he would become a future staple depth player who could play both inside and outside. He lost out to Carlos Davis in the back half of last season, but he’s done a nice job of coming back strong in year three.
With Alualu having fractured his ankle, and being owed $2.5 million next season, we can’t guarantee that the Steelers are even going to bring him back assuming he does want to play another year. And there’s really no other competition right now. Having taken Isaiahh Loudermilk this year, I don’t see them drafting another defensive lineman earlier than the seventh round, barring something big like Stephon Tuitt being released.
While Buggs is doing well for himself, for the most part, there is certainly room for improvement, and he has two brothers who are going to challenge him next season in Carlos and Khalil Davis, both of whom have more natural athletic ability than he does. As much as I like Buggs, I was even more excited for Carlos heading into this season, but he’s been injured. He won’t be in 2022.
Then, well, there’s the reality that Alualu very well may be back. He signed a two-year deal expecting to play two years. Yeah, he got hurt, by far the most significant injury of his entire career, but it happened early enough that he can recover. He’s still got the passion for the game that will drive him to continue playing. It’s not like he doesn’t have to recover from his injury anyway just to live his normal life.