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 Tre Norwood
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Norwood played more as a rookie seventh-round draft pick in 2021 than he did last season. Some of that was because of greater depth in the secondary, but he will have to claw his way back into a more consistent role in the secondary this offseason.
Truth be told, Tre Norwood probably never should have been in a position where he would have had to play much during his rookie season in 2021. That’s not a comment on his abilities nor his actual performance when he did play. Rather, the reality is that he only played as much as and when he did because the Steelers lacked depth.
They had more depth this past season, especially in the second half of the year when they were able to get safety Damontae Kazee back. That was the most damaging variable affecting his playing time, as the veteran took over key sub-packages, as well as the backup safety job.
With that being said, Norwood also struggled a bit more this past season than he did as a rookie, in my estimation. He still played a good chunk of snaps—243 in 2022 compared to 388 as a rookie—but it’s notable that he didn’t find himself around the ball very much. He had zero passes defensed after registering four as a rookie.
He didn’t even play in seven of the final eight games defensively, and was inactive for the final two games of the season, although the matter of the last two games was due to injury. But the simple reality is that he played a total of 16 defensive snaps after Kazee returned, and all of those snaps came in games in which either Minkah Fitzpatrick or Terrell Edmunds did not play.
Now, you’re generally not going to play your fourth safety very much, and it’s no knock on Norwood if the Steelers opted to play an experienced starting safety with ball skills over him. But he has his work cut out for him to earn more playing time.
Notably, both Edmunds and Kazee are free agents. Time will tell whether they re-sign one or both or neither. Which combination of the two is available for the Steelers in 2023 will go a long way toward determining where the road behinds for Norwood.