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: DB Tre Norwood
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: At least for the time being, while the Steelers continue to search for a starting strong safety, second-year defensive back Tre Norwood likely stands in as the ‘next man up’—for whatever that is worth in a scenario that is bound to change.
Do I think Tre Norwood is going to start at strong safety as the primary option this year? No, absolutely not. But if the team were to take the field for a game today, he would be in the starting lineup, as the Steelers continue to toy with their options, such as Terrell Edmunds, Tyrann Mathieu, and a number of potential draft choices.
Let me state this very clearly for those who will read past the headline and perhaps the opening line beyond the stock: I’m not in any way suggesting that Norwood is going to be a starting safety this year, or that the delay in finding a starter makes the potential of his starting more than marginally closer to a reality.
But perhaps it does say at least a little something about what the Steelers think of him that they haven’t felt pressured to fill that very significant vacancy in a more timely manner. A minor vote of confidence. This is a team that likes to have every hole possible filled before the draft, so to have a glaring one in the starting lineup isn’t nothing.
But perhaps they have some level of “comfort”, not radically dissimilar to their “comfort” in Mason Rudolph as a starter, in the idea of Norwood being an emergency fallback option even as they exhaust every reasonable opportunity to avoid that scenario.
Norwood did start one game last season, at free safety, when Minkah Fitzpatrick had to sit out a game following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. While he is more ideally suited to play free safety, I would imagine that he will be the top backup at strong safety as well by the time the regular season starts—and at this point, I’m guessing it will be behind Edmunds as the starter.