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 Genard Avery
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers officially signed veteran linebacker Genard Avery yesterday to a one-year contract that is likely to be for the veteran minimum.
Coming out of the first wave of free agency, the Steelers addressed all of their holes in the starting lineup, ostensibly, outside out the strong safety position. They still have a number of holes in terms of depth to fill; they filled one of them yesterday with the addition of veteran linebacker Genard Avery.
Originally drafted in the fifth round in 2018 by the Cleveland Browns, Avery found his way to the Philadelphia Eagles. He had a promising rookie season, but his play, and what he has been asked to do, has leveled off since then. Still, he is a fit for the Steelers’ outside linebacker position.
Ostensibly, he should take the place of Taco Charlton, who spent the second half of last season as their primary rotational edge behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith after they moved on from Melvin Ingram. Also on the roster at the position are Derrek Tuszka and John Simon, giving them the same number of edge rushers they had a year ago.
Needless to say, that should not preclude the Steelers from addressing the position next month in the draft if the price is right for a target that they really covet. Avery isn’t changing the landscape of their edge rush depth chart, exactly.
While Watt is coming off of a spectacular season, Highsmith understands that he still has something to prove entering his second season as a full-time starter. Injuries hampered his ability to hit the ground running. Both starters dealt with injury, in fact, heightening the importance of their depth in this area.
I don’t think we can even rule out the possibility of Charlton working his way back, at some point. Certainly, neither Tuszka nor Simon should consider their positions on the roster guaranteed. Not even Avery should at this point.