With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: Montravius Adams will be the Steelers’ starting nose tackle in 2023.
Explanation: Recently re-signed on a two-year, $5 million deal, Montravius Adams is entering his first offseason with the Steelers. Tyson Alualu is returning from a broken ankle suffered last season for what will quite possibly be his final season before retiring. Adams finished the season starting at nose tackle after coming over from the Saints’ practice squad late in the year, with Alualu on IR.
The Steelers really appear to be genuinely excited about Montravius Adams and his future, and the feeling also seems to be mutual. Adams has raved about his time in Pittsburgh, likening it to a family atmosphere that he hasn’t felt since college. Cameron Heyward said he hopes Adams can be a Steeler for a long time.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship, and the Steelers will have the benefit of the 2022 season to mold him into the defensive tackle that they see fit, serving as the ‘two’ to the one-two defensive tackle punch behind Alualu this year.
He has one thing you can’t really do a lot to teach, which is a really impressive get-off. There were many snaps last season where he was the first man off the ball at the snap, and he has a quickness in his game to actually make use of that ability.
A year and a half separates this offseason to the start of the 2023 season, and that’s a long time between which a lot of things can happen. For one thing, it’s not guaranteed that Alualu will actually retire after this season, even if it is the prevailing assumption. He is only under contract through 2022, but if he wants to come back for one year in 2023, don’t you think Pittsburgh would re-sign him?
Thanks to the latest CBA, there is now a Four-Year Qualifying contract, which allows a team to sign a player with at least four years of continuous service on the team to a one-year deal worth up to, as of the 2022 season, $1.35 million more than his minimum salary for accrued years, while only counting the minimum against the cap. In Alualu’s case, he could be paid $2.465 million in 2023 and come with a reduced cap hit.
Even assuming Alualu does not return, the Steelers could quite easily acquire another defensive tackle over the course of the next two drafts. They would almost inevitably be on the market for another one once Alualu retires, anyway. It wouldn’t be a shock if they used a third- or fourth-round pick on one like they did with Javon Hargrave in 2016, and he very well could start.
We’ve only seen Adams in six games, and it’s not like he wasn’t without flaws. There’s a reason the Packers didn’t re-sign him—and a reason he wasn’t a starter there. He was cut by the Patriots last year after they signed him as an unrestricted free agent. The Saints moved him from their 53-man roster to their practice squad. He’s in his sixth year now. How much is he going to grow, realistically?