2023 Stock Watch – S Keanu Neal – Purchased

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 Keanu Neal

Stock Value: Purchased

Reasoning: The Steelers added a veteran presence at the safety position after losing Terrell Edmunds to the Philadelphia Eagles. Keanu Neal is reportedly being viewed as depth, but should at least serve in sub-packages, if not in a rotation at strong safety in some way.

Terrell Edmunds was a five-year starter at strong safety for the Steelers. Evidently that doesn’t buy you very much, either at home or on the open market. While we don’t know exactly what Pittsburgh offered him, it was likely another Four-Year Veteran Player Benefit contract that would have paid him a little better than $2.5 million.

The base value of the deal that he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles is less than that, though could rise to more than that through incentives—albeit not much more. There is some belief that he felt it was the best move for his future to leave Pittsburgh. He may also have wanted to play for a team closer to a Super Bowl.

Be that as it may, the Steelers have had to move on and they started that process by signing Keanu Neal, a former first-round draft pick like Edmunds who hasn’t had a first-round career. He has become more of a sub-package player in recent years, lining up all over the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season across 581 snaps.

Neal’s reputation is led by his capacity for delivering the big hit. Sometimes those hits have taken as much out of him as they have the ball carrier, but he did manage to stay healthy last season, playing in all 17 games.

Signed to a reported two-year deal that likely won’t move the salary cap needle much, he comes in to supplement Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety, and at least for now, Damontae Kazee at strong safety. If the season were to start now, I would imagine they might use Kazee and Neal situationally, with Neal in obvious running situations and Kazee in obvious passing situations, but it never works out that seamlessly.

What remains to be seen is if the Steelers continue to address the safety position. if they do, it could knock somebody like Tre Norwood off the roster—or at least bump him into slot work almost exclusively. Or Miles Killebrew, of course, their special teamer at the spot.

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