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: S Damontae Kazee
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The veteran safety got the opportunity to play a lot of quality snaps in the spring with Minkah Fitzpatrick not participating in team drills as he and his agent negotiated a new contract. According to teammates, as well as beat writers, he made the most of those snaps.
Signed shortly after the 2022 NFL Draft when the Steelers failed to come away with any help in the secondary, veteran safety Damontae Kazee, a four-year starter in the league, is now in Pittsburgh as the team figures out just exactly what his role will be.
Strong safety Terrell Edmunds, returning for his fifth season, is convinced that his starting job is not in jeopardy because of Kazee, and he’s probably right, but you never know. Kazee is actually better suited to playing free safety, anyway, but he also has the ability to play in the slot, which opens up a range of possibilities for his usage in nickel packages.
Because Minkah Fitzpatrick was in the process of negotiating with the Steelers’ front office on a new contract, the All-Pro free safety did not participate (at least much, as far as we know) in team drills during the course of OTAs (for which he was voluntarily present when he didn’t have to be) and during minicamp.
As a result of this, Kazee got the nod as the safety chosen to work in the starting lineup, which shouldn’t be a shock even if he is new to the team, considering their backups are Tre Norwood and Miles Killebrew. Norwood did start one game last season as a rookie when Fitzpatrick missed a game due to COVID-19, but obviously, Kazee is the number two free safety in 2022.
The 29-year-old has 49 starts to his name since entering the NFL in 2017. He has 12 interceptions, and naturally, his ball skills are what the Steelers most coveted in him. He should be an asset to the depth and especially the versatility of the secondary this season, and they got a pretty good look at what he can do over the past month.