In a live telephone call with Steelers Nation Unite members Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Steelers Team President/Owner Art Rooney II answered numerous fan questions about various Steelers topics. Most questions were of the basic variety and were things that he has addressed recently in the media, but one statement in particular stood out and could have even been missed if one was not paying attention.
“Our offensive line is pretty good, and we expect all of them back.”
Going into the 2019 season, the only starting offensive lineman for the Steelers who is not under contract is Ramon Foster. Foster himself has stated the Steelers expressed a desire for him to return for next season. And with Rooney‘s latest comments, it seems to confirm the earlier reports.
As Foster is due to become an Unrestricted Free Agent in a couple months, the question will be whether the Steelers will try to lock him up on a team-friendly deal prior to free agency, or if they will let the veteran guard test the free agent waters. The Steelers may want him back, but it has to be at the right price, especially with B.J. Finney, another pending free agent, waiting in the wings.
What cannot be taken from this comment is the 2019 status of Marcus Gilbert, who only started five games in 2018. One would assume Mr. Rooney was referring to Matt Feiler when talking about having all of his linemen back since he started 10 games at the right tackle position. With Gilbert missing more games than what he has played over the last two seasons, he is one of several Steelers who may find themselves released in the next several weeks.
Nonetheless, when Gilbert is on the field, and that hasn’t been often the past two seasons, he is considered one of the top right tackles in the NFL. Is he worth his $6 million dollar contract in 2019? That is what the Steelers have to decipher this offseason.
With Coach Mike Munchak moving on to coach the offensive line in Denver, one of the best things the Steelers can do for newly promoted Coach Shaun Sarrett is to keep the starting line intact. With the statements made by Rooney recently, it appears this is something highly desirable by the Steelers.