Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Joe Schobert
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The Steelers acquired Joe Schobert via trade hoping that he could help solidify the middle of the defense, but his presence clearly did not accomplish that. With his significant price tag in 2022, there is a strong chance that he ends up being let go.
Regardless of how you choose to look at it in a cart-and-horse or chicken-and-egg scenario, the devastation of the defensive line this year really exposed every flaw that was present at the outside linebacker level.
Devin Bush was coming off of a knee injury, of course, and Joe Schobert was just brought in and had to learn a new defense in a hurry, but the bottom line is the Steelers didn’t get the quality of play from the position, when they could have reasonably expected better.
While Schobert is capable of being a volume tackler—he once again surpassed 100, which he’s done every year of his career as a starter—he left far too many plays out on the field. Not just missed tackles, but poor angles or reads that left him out of position to make a tackle attempt.
To top it all off, the veteran inside linebacker has a base salary of nearly $9 million for the 2022 season, and because he was acquired via trade and they did not adjust his contract, none of that is dead money, so that would be pure cap savings should they decide to release him.
This is not to say that all of the position’s ails should fall on Joe’s shoulders, and they most certainly do not. But it’s an easy matter of economics when you try to figure out the monetary value of his performance.
Outside of Schobert, those likely to return at the position in 2022 are—the rest of the group. Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen, and Ulysees Gilbert III. None of them will be unrestricted free agents.