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: Tyrann Mathieu will sign with the Steelers.
Explanation: Mathieu, a Pro Bowler and former All-Pro, was somewhat surprisingly not re-signed by the Chiefs, who opted for the younger Justin Reid. Set to turn 30 in May, he is still one of the top safeties in the league, and is available. The Steelers are reportedly even interested in signing him, but Terrell Edmunds and his apparently shallow market may be the direction they end up going.
The offseason started out with the question being, will Edmunds’ market be cheap enough for the Steelers to justify being him back? The problem for him is, now the question has become, can the Steelers sign Tyrann Mathieu at a price that is more commensurate with the level of play they would get from him in comparison to Edmunds on the deal it would cost to bring him back?
Pittsburgh has reportedly narrowed its search for a strong safety down to Edmunds, Mathieu, and Damontae Kazee, whom I would imagine is a distant third. To me, it seems like the Steeler either land Mathieu as Plan A or they fall back on re-signing Edmunds. If they were going to re-sign Edmunds, they wouldn’t be pursuing Mathieu in the first place.
The fact that he hasn’t had much of a market and the fact that Minkah Fitzpatrick likes playing with him and was disappointed when the team didn’t exercise his fifth-year option last year are key factors in Edmunds’ favor.
So, too, is the fact that he has gotten a bit better with each year of his career. While he did not play at a Pro Bowl level in 2021, he did show more consistency in his coverage, and he was a bigger factor in the box, with an impressive eight tackles for loss on the season.
While they could be in the market for a higher-priced free agent like Mathieu, even with more cap space to use, history tells us that the Steelers are more likely to bring back one of their own than spend more on an outside free agent, especially when their own is likely to return on a comparatively cheap deal.