What did Mark Barron toss across his room at his TV tonight? Not a thing. He had his contract signed and sealed, so he did not care one bit who the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted. Barron is set to make $3.875 million this year whether you like it or not. He gets another $2.875 million in 2020 just for signing that lil dotted line in 2019. Does not matter if he is on the roster or not. Not a chance he will be in 2020.
Barron is not a safety. Let us get that out of the way. He is a converted safety. Generally converting to different position in the NFL does not bode well. So what is Barron? Does not matter what he really is. Unlike Morgan Burnett Pittsburgh is going to use him as a 3-4 linebacker and dime linebacker. Not a Big nickel or big safety.
The Steelers caved to Steelers fans wishes and finally after years and years of fans begging they pulled the trigger. The team did not care that the starting positions at inside linebacker were already occupied by high valued players. The team still went with one of the best pound for pound players in the draft.
Years past, management was fine with ignoring the position while an aging Lawrence Timmons held one side and an up-and-coming stud Ryan Shazier held the other.
The Steelers allowed Timmons to walk away with a truckload of cash and left Pittsburgh with Vince Williams and Ryan Shazier in his wake. We all know the story with Shazier and how the ILB position has gone since then. Sean Spence made the best of his opportunity of stepping off the sofa and onto the gridiron. Most Steelers fans wish he would have stayed on the sofa and ate Cheetos instead of floundering against Leonard Fournette.
I would tell ya how mediocre VW is, but anyone who watched a game from last season knows that already. (Watch the Carolina Panthers game.) You would have seen him pull off his bull rush special. Where his value lies is with the little green dot. Yup, that one-trick pony has a special task that kept him on the field for more snaps then Stephon Tuitt last season. He has a green dot on his helmet which means he brings in the defensive plays and changes the alignments. How does a rookie supplant that? How does Bush see the field over VW?
That is easy. Tomlin tells the 17th highest paid ILB in the league he is now the highest-paid backup in the league. Barron raises his hand and asks his role. Tomlin looks him square in the face and asks, “I do not understand how an expensive mediocre vet sees the field.” The media gets wind and the boards are filled with hate.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is long gone and rookies start out of the gate in Steeler Nation. Who sits so Bush can play? Williams with his horrid contract and the green dot is unlikely. Baron has never been a defensive captain, so it is unlikely he is the man on the field in nickel situations even with his safety background. Is Bush the second man up with the green dot or do the Steelers go against their stripes and pick another position?
Because of the horrid restructure of VW, ($9 million guaranteed) the Steelers are stuck with him for at least two more years. Barron will never see his $8.125 million salary in 2020 he should walk away with a cool $2.876 million for not playing a single down in 2020.
What happens if Barron returns to 2016 form in 2019? What is Bush’s role? How does Bush see the field this season? The water is muddied for two years unless moves are made and the Steelers eat cap space. General manager Kevin Colbert had to have a road map already planned out to grab an inside linebacker early. So what exactly was the need for Barron with a capable 46 game starter in Jon Bostic sitting in the wings?
Not a chance the team pays Barron $8 million in 2020 for him to be a cheerleader. Bush will earn $3.4 million and $4.3 million in the next two seasons and $11.7 million over the next four years.
Bush is a solid college ILB. Can he transition to the pros? Is there a spot for him this season let alone next season? Is he worthy of the Steelers to swap first rounders, give up a second this year and a third next year? Will his presence negate the holes at tight end and safety this season? Doubtful.