With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.
This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense. Both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: The Steelers will add a veteran center before the start of the regular season.
Explanation: After allowing J.C. Hassenauer to walk away on the cheap, the Steelers have not significantly addressed their center depth. Nate Herbig, Kendrick Green and Ryan McCollum are the only players who are not starters at other positions who have experience there, along with rookie seventh-round pick Spencer Anderson, who is most comfortable everywhere else. Of the group, only McCollum is a natural center who would be comfortable playing there.
Anybody who follows enough of my writing knows that I have been on this train for a long time. Even after the Steelers signed Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig in free agency, I was on record saying they would still add three more offensive linemen who would make the 53-man roster, and I believe we only have two of them so far.
The first was a new starting tackle, I said, which is Broderick Jones. The second was a fourth tackle, which is, at least for now, Le’Raven Clark. And I said the third would be a backup center. That’s not Kendrick Green, Ryan McCollum, or rookie Spencer Anderson, who is more of a guard and a tackle than a center. He has about as much starting experience as Green had, which should tell you what you need to know.
I don’t know who it will be (Dave Bryan offered one veteran name in Matt Skura), but I know this player is not currently on the roster.
This is a team that started Green as a rookie at center in 2021. As much as virtually nobody wants to believe it, he is probably going to be the backup center this year. They worked him all last offseason at guard to give him a chance to compete for a starting job, at which point they weren’t comfortable working him at center again, since he’s not a natural there.
But I expect he will spend all of his time over the next several months carrying a ball around and working on his snapping. As much of a disappointment as he might be as a former third-round pick and a failed starter, the Steelers will most likely give him the chance to be the eighth lineman as the gameday backup center, with the loser of this year’s tackle competition being the swing man there and either Herbig or Kevin Dotson as the swing guard. Or who knows?
Maybe even Herbig will be the backup center. He says he doesn’t care where he plays, even if he’s pretty much only taken center snaps in the preseason. But playing most of your career behind Jason Kelce, you’re not getting snaps there.