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: OL Trai Turner
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: While he showed the ability to stay healthy over the course of a season, Trai Turner’s level of play in 2021 was not above what was expected of him, and largely average (which was above average for the Steelers).
Trai Turner was not the Steelers’ Plan A, by any means. They signed him on the same day that they waived David DeCastro due to a lingering ankle injury that at this point has likely prompted him to decide to retire.
But he was a solid Plan B. Losing a player like DeCastro, at the same time as all of their other losses, the Steelers needed a solid veteran presence in that young offensive line room. That was after they had already drafted Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr., and Kevin Dotson was set to start as well as a second-year player.
Turner’s veteran presence was important both on and off the field. One area in which he was really essential was in the experience-based nuances, like handing off pass rushers on stunts, something he did do very well. He was also responsible for a lot of pre-snap reads and commands.
But he came to the Steelers as a five-time Pro Bowler, so we have to keep that in mind. Did they get Pro Bowl-level play out of him in 2021? No, they didn’t. Factoring in some consistency issues, they only got pretty much replacement-level play from Turner judged only by his personal performance, or perhaps somewhere slightly above that.
Still, resources are limited and roster holes are plentiful. If they can re-sign Turner on the (relative) cheap and move on with other concerns, that would be a good way to go. He’ll be looking for more than a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason, however, there’s no doubt of that.
Turner was rehabbing an injury during a pandemic, fighting against a depressed market due to the lack of fans at games the previous season. Now he’s re-established himself and shown that he can get through a full season, and the cap is at its highest point ever. He’s isn’t going to hit eight-figure annual averages, but it wouldn’t shock me if he finds a better deal than the Steelers are willing to match.