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: S Damontae Kazee
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: Kazee spent the past five years as a starter, so I can hardly say that his stock is up, but coming back from a broken forearm to be a significant and impactful contributor to the Steelers’ defense in the second half of the season helps set himself up better for 2023.
One wonders what Damontae Kazee would have cost in free agency in 2022 had he not gotten a DWI during the bye week in 2021 when he was with the Dallas Cowboys. Teams surely gave that some consideration, likely the only reason he was unsigned until after the draft.
Whatever the reason, the Steelers got a starting safety for a backup price. But they also only got half a season out of him after he suffered a broken forearm in the final preseason game. He spent the first nine weeks, including the bye, on the Reserve/Injured List but was able to return for the final nine games.
Despite the time lost and the fact that he was a reserve, Kazee still managed to log 273 defensive snaps, starting some games due to injury. He finished the season with 20 tackles and two interceptions for his efforts.
In spite of his size, he has a reputation as a big hitter and he did get the chance to display that during his time with the Steelers. He even contributed on special teams, logging over 50 snaps there in just half a season’s worth of time.
With both himself and Terrell Edmunds unrestricted free agents this offseason, one wonders if the Steelers might not find themselves in a position where they have to choose one or the other. There’s a reasonable possibility that they will once again be able to sign both on affordable contracts, which would be the best of all possible scenarios.
But you have to imagine he wants to be somewhere where he’ll have an opportunity to start again. He started 49 games prior to signing with the Steelers and has been a regular in that role since his second season in the NFL. if he has a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere, he’ll likely pounce.