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: OLB Taco Charlton
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: The former first-round draft pick dressed in the final 12 games for the Steelers last season, including the playoffs, playing over 200 snaps, but without a substantial impact.
For somebody who was drafted ahead of T.J. Watt in the same draft class at the same position, it’s fair to say that Taco Charlton has not lived up to his pre-draft expectations. That should go without saying when considering the fact that he is currently hoping to remain one of Watt’s backups in 2022.
Signed to the Steelers’ practice squad at the start of the season, Charlton was called up after the team traded Melvin Ingram to the Kansas City Chiefs. He went on to play over 200 snaps on defense, finishing the year with half a sack, a key pass defensed, and quite arguably a forced fumble that he was not officially given credit for.
Still, it’s not the sort of impact that is going to get you a guarantee on a future role. Right now, Charlton, who is a vested veteran, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March. I presume that he will hope to explore his opportunities on the open market, but his Steelers tape isn’t going to wow anybody—not that any of his other tape did.
But it would still make sense to bring him back on a cheap deal for depth, especially if you’re not guaranteeing him anything in terms of a roster spot, and little in terms of signing bonus. It’s not as though the Steelers have many other options, with Derrek Tuszka being the other depth edge rusher at the moment.
One thing that would help him is if he shows a willingness to play on special teams, which isn’t something he’s ever really done. He has 38 total special teams snaps in five years. He has the body that you want at the position, but it’s never come with the matching production.