By Matthew Marczi
Player: Stevenson Sylvester
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 4 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2013 Salary Cap Hit: $444,706
2013 Season Breakdown: In the weeks leading up to training camp, Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler actually spoke highly of Stevenson Sylvester, a fourth-year inside linebacker with a lot to prove. He intimated that Sylvester would likely be the first linebacker off the bench.
As it turned out, Sylvester wound up being the first linebacker on the bench, as he suffered an ankle sprain after a teammate collided into him following a strong special teams tackle in the first preseason game. The injury completely derailed his training camp, and his inability to retake the field made him an easy first wave cut.
The Steelers did later re-sign him mid-season, releasing Kion Wilson in order to bring him back. Of course, he primarily played special teams, in the process registering three special teams tackles, though his overall performance on special teams wasn’t impressive.
Sylvester did see some time on defense this year, both at inside linebacker and outside linebacker, the latter coming toward the end of the season following injuries and illnesses to the top three at the position.
First, however, he saw 13 snaps on defense during the second-half slaughter courtesy of the New England Patriots in Week Nine of the regular season, registering one tackle but generally finding himself out of position on running plays.
Over the course of the last two weeks of the season, Sylvester played close to 90 snaps at outside linebacker, alternating with Chris Carter but ultimately receiving the bulk of the work—which says more about Carter than about Sylvester.
As shouldn’t be surprising, Sylvester didn’t present much of a pass rush against either Matt Flynn or Jason Campbell. In fact, the one time he did register what was in essence a coverage sack, the play was negated by offsetting penalties, if my memory is correct. In general, his play against the run was marginal, yet acceptable, registering eight tackles in the last two games.
Free Agency Outlook: There really shouldn’t be any market for Sylvester. He has shown nothing defensively, and is far from an accomplished or notable contributor on special teams that could garner him a shot with another team. Should anybody sign him, it would be purely as a roster filler.
The Steelers could be one of those teams with a roster-filling need, but as a veteran player, there is likely a cheaper alternative. While the Steelers have Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, and Wilson—and a wildcard in Sean Spence—there is no clear legitimate starter in that group.
Re-signing Sylvester would just be piling on marginal talent at an already confused position. While he may be brought back with a chance to compete in camp, he will certainly not be guaranteed anything, and at this point I wouldn’t expect him to make the roster.
Other Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Ryan Clark – Unrestricted Free Agent
Emmanuel Sanders – Unrestricted Free Agent
Brett Keisel – Unrestricted Free Agent
Jerricho Cotchery – Unrestricted Free Agent
Ziggy Hood – Unrestricted Free Agent
Jason Worilds – Unrestricted Free Agent
David Johnson – Unrestricted Free Agent
Jonathan Dwyer – Unrestricted Free Agent
Fernando Velasco – Unrestricted Free Agent
Cody Wallace – Unrestricted Free Agent
Will Allen – Unrestricted Free Agent