By: CJ Lester
Should the Pittsburgh Steelers bring back Mark Barron? The hybrid safety/linebacker was released earlier this off-season as a cap casualty. The biggest issue that a lot of Steeler fans had with Barron was that he did not perform up to the standards of the contract he was given last off-season. In 2019, the Steelers signed Barron to a two-year/$12 million deal. In fact, you could argue that he was the biggest splash for the Steelers during the free agency period, based on initial reactions. However, that title belongs to CB Steven Nelson, who has exceeded expectations and did really well on the other side of Joe Haden. The Steelers cut Barron to save $5.25 million against the salary cap. The team and the fan base seemed to be in agreement that Barron hadn’t played up to expectations in the ‘Burgh. The afterthought of Barron’s release was that the Steelers would sign or draft someone to take on a lower cap hit to add depth to the inside linebacker room. The team didn’t address the need in the draft or in free agency.
Do I think the 2nd year LB Ulysses Gilbert III will do well in sub packages and as a depth piece in that room? Yes, I really do. With that being said, the Steelers have little to no quality depth behind 2nd year LB Devin Bush Jr., productive veteran LB Vince Williams, and Gilbert III. It should be noted that the team also has LB Robert Spillane under contract for this upcoming season as well.
Bush totaled 109 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions a season ago. Williams tallied 55 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed, and 0 interceptions. In limited action due to injury, Gilbert III tallied 5 tackles. Spillane was a stud on special teams as a late addition, but didn’t get to contribute much on the defensive side of the ball. He tallied 11 tackles all on special teams in 8 games. That depth is promising, but there are still a lot of unknowns. We are all excited and intrigued by Gilbert’s preseason play a season ago, but we’re not sure he would be very productive in regular season play. Spillane is a tremendous special team’s player, but could he handle taking on defensive snaps if Bush or Williams go down with an injury next season? I’m not really sure.
Barron totaled 82 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 passes defensed, and 1 interception. Barron was productive, but not up to par with the $5.25 million that he was due for the 2020 season. There is a thought out there circling different social media platforms that the Steelers should look to bring back Barron on a cheaper deal. According to the tape, Barron was productive and played well at times, but he tended to be inconsistent. His play was frustrating to watch for a lot of Steeler fans. However, the Steelers could still use some quality depth at the inside linebacker position and a smart move would be to bring in a familiar face that has already been productive within the defensive system. If Barron would agree to come in on a team-friendly contract, the Steelers would benefit greatly from having another inside linebacker that is capable of contributing. The Steelers have around $5.7 million of salary cap space left.
Should the Steelers look to sign Mark Barron to a team-friendly deal as a quality depth piece in the inside linebacker room? Sound off in the comments section below, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!