This past Thursday was a busy day in regards to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only was there the disappointing announcement that Steelers were not granted permission by the NFL to return to St. Vincent College for training camp in 2021, Steelers released former All-Pro guard David DeCastro the same afternoon.
While Steelers’ Nation was reeling from the news, it didn’t come completely out of the blue after it was reported former Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Chargers guard Trai Turner and visited the Steelers immediately following minicamp. Something seemed to be off with things based on the need for the visit.
A mere hours after DeCastro was released, it was reported that Steelers signed Turner to a one-year contract.
Exactly how the Steelers offensive line will perform with Turner instead of DeCastro in 2021 will be an ongoing question throughout the summer and into the fall. What is interesting about the two players is they had a very similar narrative from fans going into the season. Exactly what was that narrative?
If only they can get over there injuries and return to pre-2020 form, they will be set up to have a great season.
Even though David DeCastro was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2020, it’s difficult to find anyone in Steelers Nation who would say he had a good year. Starting off on the wrong foot, DeCastro missed the first two games of the 2020 NFL season. After coming back to play all the offensive snaps in Week 3 against the Houston Texans, DeCastro didn’t even make it a third of the way through the Steelers next game against the Eagles and missed the following week against the Browns. After missing those games, DeCastro never seemed to be quite the same player.
As for Trai Turner, he had a pretty rough 2020 as well. Traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in the offseason for Russell Okung, Turner missed seven of the first eight games for the Chargers in 2020. Upon his return, he struggled immensely and had the worst run blocking grade of any guard in the NFL last season according to Pro Football Focus.
What is interesting is both players were coming off five-straight Pro-Bowl seasons going into 2020.
Trai Turner was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft by the Carolina Panthers and started nine games his rookie season. By 2015 Turner was the starting right guard for the Panthers in every game and started his Pro Bowl streak.
There are some slight differences between both of these players and what got them to this point. David DeCastro did also have two All-Pro seasons on his résumé in 2015 and 2017. DeCastro also benefited from playing his entire career with the Steelers while Trai Turner may have had some struggles in the 2020 season because of changing teams.
So without looking at the names, earlier this offseason the Steelers were hoping to have their multiple Pro -Bowl guard rebound from an injury riddled 2020 season. At this time, the narrative just so happens to be the same, but with a different player. The only difference is DeCastro was a more known commodity from being with the Steelers and Trai Turner is now someone from the outside coming in. But with Turner being only 28 years old, he is looking to extend his NFL career while DeCastro wasn’t sure how much he has left at the age of 31.
The success of the Steelers offensive line in 2021 seems to be hinging a lot on players who are trying to bounce back from a rough 2020 season. Players include Zach Banner coming off of an ACL injury, B.J. Finney returning to Pittsburgh after failing to find the field in Seattle or Cincinnati, and now Trai Turner who struggled on the West Coast and missed nearly half the season. The only difference now is David Castro is no longer another player with the Steelers that fits into this category.