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: ILB Cole Holcomb
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers are remaking their inside linebacker room this offseason, including the addition of Cole Holcomb from the Washington Commanders. For the second time in as many years, they have signed a new starter in free agency and then promptly cut the starter brought in a year earlier, in this case Myles Jack, whose signing prompted the release of former teammate Joe Schobert in 2022.
Cole Holcomb wasn’t the splash in free agency some fans might have been hoping for. Many might even question just how good of a player they are really getting in him. But we do know that they are getting in him a player who will be on the field for every snap, as long as he’s healthy.
Considering he’s missed a decent amount of games in his career, including most of last season, that might be a riskier proposition than one might hope for, but nevertheless, that’s the gamble the front office is willing to take.
He only played in seven games last season, suffering a knee and foot injury that landed him on the Reserve/Injured List and ultimately required surgery on the foot in December. He did manage 69 tackles in those seven games.
His most complete season came a year earlier in 2021. Logging over 1000 snaps as a full-time starter, virtually the only time he missed was the game for which he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. He finished the year with 142 tackles for the Commanders with two interceptions, including a pick six, and seven passes defensed. He also had two forced fumbles and a sack.
Perhaps the biggest question is who will be playing around him, as both Devin Bush and Robert Spillane are also gone, having signed elsewhere in free agency. The team released 2022 starter Myles Jack after they signed Holcomb, but they did also sign Elandon Roberts, who has starting experience.
Currently the only linebacker on the 53-man roster returning from last season in 2022 rookie Mark Robinson. There have been some reports that the Steelers would like to see if he can take a starting job over this year, but that would be a big ask given how raw he still was at the end of last season.