With the arrival of the end of the football season each year comes the musings of many an arm chair GM and his many ideas to “fix” the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Keep James Harrison forever, cut Jarvis Jones, groom Chickillo to take over for James in 5 years.”
“Let Le’Veon Bell walk. Running backs are easy to replace and how many teams win Super Bowls when having an NFL rushing champion on their roster anyway?”
“Trade Timmons for a high round pick now while we still can. He should bring the Steelers a third.”
“Shaun Suisham is worth a mid round pick in trade.”
“The Steelers should trade Ben while he still has value and draft Cardale Jones.”
And other such foolishness….
We’ll just set aside the Bell argument as SCB’s friend Ian M at TheSteelersN’At eviscerated that argument far better than I could have on Tuesday night.
I will say this. Given that Bell’s greatest contributions have rarely been as a rusher anyway (eight 100 yard rushing games in 35 career starts), making the value of successful rushers alone the crux of your argument to let him walk is one of the dumbest things I have ever read.
Bell is the team’s 2nd best receiver, an outstanding route runner, an outstanding pass protector and is so dynamic coming out of the backfield that opposing defenses have to slow play the Steelers offense when he stays in the backfield in order to account for what he “might” do. The impact of that one facet of Bell’s presence gives the entire unit an advantage. If one truly cannot see the value in that, said person knows little to nothing about the game of football. Bell is to the Steelers what Marshal Faulk was to the Rams.
As for cutting or trading Pouncey, I just don’t see it.
As the screen capture from Over The Cap illustrates, if the Steelers cut or traded Pouncey before March 13th (5th day of the league year when his $3.5M roster bonus is due), they could conceivably create $7M in 2016 cap space by designating that a post June 1 transaction. However, he would count $8.053M in 2017 dead money and that 2016 cap space would not be realized until June 2nd.
That’s pretty unlikely to happen though. Cody Wallace, as an adequate replacement, was the Steelers weakest link along the starting offensive line, and by a pretty wide margin. Let’s not pretend that Ramon Foster, Al Villanueva or Kelvin Beachum are going to make the Pro Bowl any time soon either. Dubious PFF “ratings” aside, all are average players.
When suggesting that Wallace become the full time starter, people seem to forget that Wallace led the line with 7 sacks allowed and led the team in penalties and penalty yardage with 12 accepted penalties for 120 yards, and that’s after two of his holding penalties were declined. Wallace is a pretty good backup, but in the lowest tier as an NFL starting center. Wallace also holds the distinction of being one of the league leaders in presnap penalties by a center. Given the advantage one has as the guy who actually snaps the ball, that is a pretty embarrassing “honor” to hold.
Conversely, Pouncey is considered by his peers and their coaches to be an elite player at his position, as reflected in Pro Bowl voting and is voted to the All Pro team by the AP each year because of that. His lack of availability has been a detractor from his overall value, no doubt. But, it’s difficult to make the case that he’s injury prone and not just unlucky. Having NFL players dive at your lower leg when you’re not looking and being injured as a result is not the same as being out of shape and continually injuring lower leg muscles like a former over compensated Steelers outside linebacker once did on a regular basis.
Trading Pouncey over the course of the next 7 weeks would be difficult. Cutting him because he could not be traded would mean that the organization had invested $20 million on a second contract for an elite talent, only to see that investment pay dividends for whichever team signs him after he leaves.
The Rooney family doesn’t do business that way. They leave those kind of decisions for the Cleveland Browns to make in their biyearly complete organizational remake. Seems to be working out really well for Cleveland.
Image credit: NFL.com