The 2021 regular season is now complete and with a little help, the Pittsburgh Steelers have qualified for the AFC’s seventh seed. The Steelers required a game in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens who were without Lamar Jackson. Some late game heroics by Ben Roethlisberger and the receiving corp combined with a perfect game by Chris Boswell helped put them over the edge.
Here are the players with their stock on the move after Week 18:
TE PAT FREIERMUTH – STOCK UP
Pat Freiermuth’s 2021 was about as good as you could hope for from a rookie tight end. The position is notoriously hard for rookies and usually requires a year or two to bulk up and get up to speed. He had 60 receptions for 497 yards and seven touchdowns. Against Baltimore, he helped move the chains on third down multiple times, a role that needed a “next man up” after JuJu Smith-Schuster got injured for the season.
OT ZACH BANNER – STOCK DOWN
If the Steelers wanted any chance at keeping one of the compensatory draft selections in the upcoming draft, they would not have started Joe Haeg with Dan Moore Jr. out injured. Zach Banner would have gotten the nod if he was healthy or if the team had any confidence in his level of readiness. Mike Tomlin was asked about Banner not playing a few weeks back and he said that the injuries the team had sustained were all at guard this year, so Banner hadn’t gotten a chance yet. Well, that chance should have been Week 18, but it wasn’t. For the kind of money Banner is being paid, and with that number increasing next year, I don’t see how he returns in 2022.
OLB T.J. WATT – STOCK UP
When you have an all-time great season that makes the record books, your stock is going to be pointing up. T.J. Watt registered 22.5 sacks on the season, tying Michael Strahan’s all-time record that has stood for multiple decades. In the 17-game era, and T.J. having missed multiple games this season with injury, you get the sense that Watt could break his own record in the coming years. Fingers crossed that he ends up getting the recognition he deserves with Defensive Player of the Year
CB CAMERON SUTTON – STOCK UP
Cam Sutton is a player that came on strong last season as the primary backup for Joe Haden and Steven Nelson at the time. This year, he has been the full-time starter opposite Haden. He had a pretty non-descript season, but he finished on a high note. Against the Ravens he had an interception in the end zone to prevent a two-possession game, and he broke up another two passes in coverage. Pro Football Focus gave him an 88.8 overall defensive grade, which was second on the team, just behind T.J. Watt.
NT ISAIAH BUGGS – STOCK SOLD
After losing Tyson Alualu for the season, the door was wide open for either Carlos Davis or Isaiah Buggs to take control of the position. They had spent a couple years on the roster and flashed potential. Buggs largely failed his trial as a starter, forcing the Steelers to seek outside help in Montravius Adams. After being inactive as a healthy scratch, the Steelers finally released Buggs. He signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.