Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: OLB Jamir Jones
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The Steelers announced the re-signing of third-year outside linebacker Jamir Jones, a pending exclusive rights free agent, to a one-year contract. It promises to be a standard no-frills minimum deal that gives him an opportunity to come into camp and compete for a roster spot.
Jamir Jones was already due up next for inclusion in this series anyway, so it’s fitting that the Steelers allow us to kill two birds with one stone by being able to wrap up his 2022 season while also discussing his return for the 2023 season.
A camp darling in 2021, Jones made a charge for the 53-man roster but only survived a couple of weeks before he was swapped out in favor of Derrek Tuszka, subsequently claimed off waivers and lost until last season.
Indeed, he was on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster until waived on August 1, and the Steelers claimed him, carrying him on their 53-man roster while also adding Malik Reed via trade. Reed started out as their primary rotational outside linebacker, but over the course of the season, they favored Jones.
That really says more about Reed, however, than it says about Jones. The fact of the matter is that they made Reed inactive at the end of the season and chose to dress only three outside linebackers. Jones, in contrast, dressed for every game.
He only saw 86 snaps on defense, however, including 18 in the regular season opener. That was largely due to the game going into overtime and T.J. Watt suffering an injury late in the fourth quarter, fatigue early in the season and an in-game adjustment requiring them to adapt on the fly. Reed also had a lot more to learn about the Steelers’ system than Jones did, having previously played in it.
He would not hit double-digit snaps on defense again until Week 14, however, when he played 10 snaps, and then again in the finale. But he played 251 snaps on special teams and became a fixture there, one of the reasons that he dressed for every game.
I don’t expect the team will bring Reed back, now an unrestricted free agent, but they did reunite with Quincy Roche, their 2021 sixth-round draft pick. Surely the Steelers will add at least one outside linebacker of note over the course of the offseason, whether via free agency or the draft. But they re-signed Jones, and when you’re in a position like his, any contract you get is cause for celebration because you have a chance.