The Steelers signed veteran inside linebacker Jon Bostic to a two-year deal on Sunday, putting to rest everyone's fears about one major void on the defense.
Actually, not really.
What people are really saying (at least most of them) is that Bostic is a great depth signing, which implies he will be a backup of some sort.
That has to be what it means, because nobody described Joe Haden as a great depth signing when Pittsburgh inked him to a three-year deal last August.
In the eyes of some, the Steelers' 2018 plans for Bostic are contingent on the value of the contract, something that has yet to be disclosed by the always tight-lipped about such things organization—kinda akin to a post-signing physical, I suppose.
In my humble opinion, unless his deal averages about a penny more per year than the $690,000 he earned with the Colts in 2017, the Steelers are bringing Bostic to town with the intentions of starting him alongside Vince Williams next season.
"Two of Bostic's primary responsibilities with the Steelers would be calling the defensive plays and playing in coverage, both of which he says he's comfortable with."
That last paragraph is one I pulled from a Pittsburgh.cbslocal.com article on Monday, regarding the Bostic deal.
"I was a three-down player there," said Bostic of his time with the Colts last year in that same article. "I never came off the field. I did call all the plays. I covered as well. A lot of people don't really know I can do that much, but that is something I definitely can do. I just really haven't had a chance to show that off as well."
All the above doesn't sound like a player who's coming to town to compete for a job.
Bostic may have to compete, but that will happen organically, if either third-year man Tyler Matakevich takes a huge leap in 2018 and/or a hypothetical rookie pulls a T.J. Watt and—through sheer performance—dares his bosses to take him off the field.
More realities about Bostic are that he missed all of 2016 with a foot injury, and that he finished last season on Injured Reserve after spraining his knee.
But another truth about Bostic is that he started 14 games last year and recorded 97 tackles.
Bostic is also 26 years old.
Players with that kind of resume—youth and starting experience—aren't going to sign with a team if they think they will spend a good deal of time on the bench.
Some people have said Bostic isn't really a great signing, just that he's better than anything the Steelers currently have at inside linebacker besides Williams, what with Ryan Shazier, still dealing with the realities of the spinal injury he sustained against the Bengals last December 4, officially ruled out for the 2018 season.
I think that pretty much sums it up.
Bostic is, in-fact, better than anyone the Steelers currently had starting in-place of Shazier down the stretch of the 2017 campaign and into the divisional round of the playoffs.
Obviously, Bostic will never be able to athletically replicate what Shazier brought to the table before his injury; those kinds of players sign deals so huge, not even the Steelers could keep the lid on the figures if they were lucky enough to bring him to town—and I doubt any such inside linebacker even existed in this year's class of free agents, salary cap room, or no salary cap room.
In addition to starting experience and youth, Bostic also brings to the table a high enough draft pedigree to give one hope that maybe he is months away from discovering a defense and system that truly suit him.
Jon Bostic very well could be a depth signing, but it sure doesn't seem like it.