With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we have turned 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: S Damontae Kazee
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: Though not yet officially signed, Damontae Kazee is expected to return to the Steelers on a two-year contract, the details of which remain a mystery as of this writing. It remains to be seen if they are viewing him as the new starting strong safety in place of Terrell Edmunds, who is on the open market.
The Steelers got Kazee at a bargain rate last year, — he signed for the veteran minimum after the draft — largely because he tanked his own market by getting a DWI during the Dallas Cowboys’ bye week the year prior.
We don’t yet know what Steelers had to pay to keep him on a two-year deal this time, though I’m guessing it won’t top more than a few million per year. After all, we are talking about a player who missed half the season due to injury and was a backup when returned. This after being a starter for most of his career.
I don’t want to sound like I’m downing Kazee as a player. I’m only providing some clarity as to the factors shaping his market value. If the Steelers’ plan is to move forward with him as their starting strong safety, it wouldn’t be a bad one.
He is a talented player with ball skills, with 14 career interceptions —even if half of them came in one season—as well as seven forced fumbles. Takeaway production is highly valued in this defense for good reason. Kazee also knows how to play in coverage and is an eager tackler who shows physicality beyond his size.
There’s a lot to like about him, in other words. But there are reasons he’s never cashed in big during free agency, even if some of them aren’t his fault—such as hitting the market for the first time during the pandemic-impacted offseason of 2021 and then getting into legal trouble a year later.
But the money isn’t my problem. I’m hoping that Kazee finds a home with the Steelers and serves as a valuable member of the defense. I’m not sure I would necessarily say “for years to come,” since he is nearing 30 years of age, but for at least the length of this contract. After that, we’ll revisit the situation and see where we stand.