There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with Mike Tomlin’s extension, the jersey number rule changing, Justin Layne’s arrest and the threat of Alejandro Villanueva moving to the Ravens. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be the Hall and Oates 80s top-ten hit from 1983, “Say It Isn’t So”.
Here’s a sample of that great single...
Tell me what you want yeah I’ll do it baby I promise right now
Who propped you up when you were stopped low motivation
Had you on the ground
I know your first reaction you slide away hide away goodbye
But if there’s a doubt maybe I can give out a thousand reasons why
You have to say it isn’t so
You can ponder the significance or wonder whether they are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to the legendary duo of Daryl and John, But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time will tell.
Alejandro Villanueva is a traitor if he joins the Baltimore Ravens
Hell to the no! Alejandro Villanueva is a free agent and that period officially began on March 17. The Steelers have signed three offensive linemen in the persons of Joe Haeg, Rashaad Coward and Zach Banner who was resigned to the team. They have an immediate need for Alejandro. I would think the Ravens would be attractive to the veteran of the US Armed Forces, which Baltimore celebrates very often in pregame. Villanueva has to feed his family. If he wants to stay in the game, he’s going to have to go where he’s wanted. Just because it’s a former rival doesn’t mean that he’s going to turn down the opportunity. I realize in the past that Hines Ward said that he would retire rather than join a team like the Baltimore and that’s his prerogative, but Ward had 15 years in the league and that was a personal choice. Villanueva has to make a choice on whether he wants to remain working or not. You can’t fault him for the next jersey he wears, when his former team did nothing to keep him.
The draft plan will surely go out the window if certain players fall
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, players will rise. With that occurring, which it always does, others will fall and the teams that stops the slide benefit from it. Back in 2018, Mitch Trubisky made a late run up the draft boards, while Lamar Jackson almost fell out of the first round. We all know how that turned out. We’ve seen the likes of Dan Marino and Aaron Rodgers drop. We could go all day citing players that endured a free fall and the teams that benefitted from their descent down the draft board. The Steelers famously saw Rod Woodson drop to them at No. 10 in 1987, Ben Roethlisberger’s epic green room waiting game in 2004, as well as David DeCastro and Bud Dupree plummeting in 2012 and 2015 respectively. There’s other instances too. If a guy like Christian Darrisaw, Rashawn Slater, Micah Parsons or any other player expected to go very early is available, the Steelers could abandon their expected plan. Of course, you have to assume that the Steelers have a high number of scenarios already planned out and will be ready for anything.
This could be the ideal draft for a Steelers’ trade down
2021 is absolutely the perfect draft for the Steelers to trade down if they are so inclined. Sure, the team has a lot of needs, but because of COVID-19, this is a much more loaded draft even in the middle rounds. There’s a reason for that too. Some players took the entire 2020 collegiate season off and others had to step up in their absence. Basically, there’s so much to choose from. With the Steelers having a lot of Draft needs an extra pick in those middle rounds or an extra second rounder might be valuable. I realize that you want to have a first rounder because of that all important fifth-year option, therefore it would be ideal for the Steelers to trade down, but remain in the first round. Kevin Colbert is always going to answer the phone and the Steelers have traded down in the past, but never out of the first round. Technically they traded out of the first round when they picked up Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019 for their 2020 No. 1 pick. However when trading out of the first round in the same draft, they haven’t done it. This would definitely be the year to do it, if they so choose.
Justin Layne’s arrest alters the Steelers’ draft plan at corner
So Justin Layne gets arrested this week for speeding, marijuana and having a gun in his car. This event actually has some fans in media wondering if the Steelers are going to elevate cornerback even more up their draft board. Layne was not penciled in to be a starter and he is a depth piece. The Steelers were targeting a corner regardless of Layne’s extracurricular activities. They can draft one high, which many people assumed that they would. But that is more due to the fact that Joe Haden’s contract is running out soon and Steven Nelson is no longer on the team. But it has nothing to do with the arrest of the third-year man from Michigan State. Justin Layne doesn’t really factor in this decision.
Extending Mike Tomlin’s contract three years is actually good strategy
I get that there is quite a bit of Steelers fans then don’t feel that Mike Tomlin has achieved enough with the roster he has had since 2007. Just like in the late 90s when everybody thought it was time for hometown boy Bill Cowher to go, some people were dismayed when the Steelers offered and Tomlin accepted a three-year extension this week. That’s really good strategy. The reason why starts with Ben Roethlisberger. If he retires and you’re starting over, having a coach with the reputation among players that Tomlin has is imperative. We saw in the 2021 off-season where three Steelers players stayed where they could have gotten more money elsewhere. Now there are a lot of reasons for that, but a lot of it has to do with the culture that Mike Tomlin has put in place. Having Tomlin around after Ben’s departure could prevent a total rebuild. However, if the next two years actually see the team take a step back with his first losing season or two, the team may decide to part ways. But for now, it’s a shrewd move to hand Coach T three more years.
Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game and listen for more on the player below.