With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason. 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 Elandon Roberts
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers signed the veteran inside linebacker to a two-year, $7 million contract as an unrestricted free agent. He has an extensive history playing for 2022 Steelers assistant Brian Flores, and the Steelers had a good relationship with him as a draft prospect many years ago. He projects to be a starting buck who should come off the field in sub-packages.
The Steelers have been throwing answers at the inside linebacker problem for half a decade now, but none has ended up being the solution. History suggests that Elandon Roberts isn’t going to be, either. Not that a 29-year-old inside linebacker is likely to play for much longer in the first place.
But he has a respectable resume as a tough box defender who, though he might miss some tackles, is a force against the run and capable of making impact plays in this area. He also has some effective blitzing ability, something the Steelers have lacked from the inside linebacker position since Vince Williams retired.
At $7 million over two seasons, Robert isn’t commanding a prohibitive salary, which may even help him stick around through the 2024 season and complete his contract. That’s something his long line of predecessors from Jon Bostic to Myles Jack have been unable to do.
Jack was the latest ‘answer’ in free agency last year, signed to a two-year, $16 million deal. He was released earlier this month following an average, low-impact season marred by injuries. The team allowed Devin Bush and Robert Spillane to walk in free agency as well.
Roberts comes in alongside free agent Cole Holcomb — the former Washington Commander signed a three-year, $18 million deal — the two of them likely to be in the starting lineup together. The Steelers also have veteran Tae Crowder on the roster and return 2022 rookie Mark Robinson from last season.
Roberts is coming off a career year in which he played 680 snaps, registering 107 tackles with 10 for loss alongside 4.5 sacks and six quarterback hits. He only has 10 passes defensed, including a pick-six in 2021, in his seven-year career.