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2022 Offseason Questions: Who Is The Most Valuable Player In The AFC North?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Who is the most valuable player in the AFC North?

There are two primary faculties involved when discussing athletes and relative skill. You have pure individual skill, detailing how good somebody is at what they do, but you also have positional value, acknowledging the simple fact that some players by the nature of their role have a larger impact on the game.

When it comes to football, the quarterback position dominates in terms of value, but that’s not to say that a truly transcendent player at another key position, such as a pass rusher, couldn’t be regarded as better. Many believe Aaron Donald, for example, is the player you would want to start a franchise with right now—or maybe five years ago, anyway, considering his age.

When we put the microscope on the AFC North, we do actually see that some of the best players in the division do happen to be quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens has already been a unanimous league MVP before. Joe Burrow looks like he could be the real deal, as well.

Yet the Steelers also have the reigning defensive player of the year in T.J. Watt. I think we can dispense with the formalities and just say that these three players are the contenders for the title of most valuable player in the AFC North.

So which is it? Let’s say you’re starting a franchise right now with all of the players on these four teams’ rosters. Who is the first player that you assign a jersey number? How likely are you to go with the star pass rusher? And if you don’t, which quarterback do you take—the more traditional passer, or the more dynamic talent who’s begun redefining the position itself?

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