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: ILB Tanner Muse
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers officially announced the signing of linebacker Tanner Muse yesterday, presumably on a one-year, minimum-salary contract. Despite his pedigree as a former third-round draft choice, he has become a special teamer and should fit into that role.
Tanner Muse had quite a solid career coming at Clemson, which was enough for the Raiders to draft him in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. A 4.4 40-yard dash didn’t hurt, either (it’s still the Raiders, after all, even with Al Davis gone).
Yet he never ended up playing there, spending his first season dealing with injuries and illness, as significant changes within the organization resulted in lost loyalties. The Seattle Seahawks eventually signed Muse to their practice squad in 2021 after his release from Las Vegas. He played six games that season with 100 snaps logged on special teams, managing four tackles.
He made the 53-man roster again last season. Though he played just 80 snaps on defense this time around, he became a fixture on special teams, producing 325 snaps, which we should expect to see now that he is in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps it is worth noting that nearly all of Muse’s defensive snaps came very late in the year, including 38 in the finale, a game that he started. He also started Seattle’s postseason game and logged 44 more defensive snaps. That was because starter Jordyn Brooks tore his ACL in week 17.
Still, that doesn’t mean there is no defensive upside for Muse, even though he is surely being brought in with special-teams considerations in mind. The Steelers have lost some significant pieces there this offseason, including Marcus Allen and Robert Spillane at the inside linebacker position, not to mention Derek Watt, Miles Boykin, and Jamir Jones.
Special teams turnover is going to happen every year, but 2023 could see a pretty significant proportion of snaps lost for special teams coordinator Danny Smith’s units from one season to the next. Muse is likely to be one piece of that puzzle.
The Steelers frequently keep five inside linebackers on the 53, occasionally even six if special teams demands it. So far, they figure to carry two new free agent additions in Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts, plus last year’s seventh-round pick, Mark Robinson. Veteran Tae Crowder could also compete to make the team, and there’s a fair chance they will address the position in the draft as well.