The Pittsburgh Steelers signed their fourth outside free agent yesterday, inking linebacker Arthur Moats to a one-year qualifying contract with a signing bonus, which comes with a reduced cap hit.
The reduced cap hit isn’t the only added benefit of the Moats signing, however. His position versatility allows the Steelers to let the offseason to come to them when it comes to rebuilding the roster at linebacker.
Because Moats can play both inside and outside linebacker in a 3-4 system, the Steelers don’t have to particularly worry about focusing on either inside or outside linebacker based on the number of bodies.
Accordingly, the team can approach the remainder of the free agency period, as well as the draft, with an eye toward a bargain rather than specifically eying help for either inside or outside linebacker.
Whichever position affords them a better value—whether it comes through free agency or the draft—is the position that they should tackle, because Moats could be the first player off the bench in case of injury anywhere in the second level of the defense.
As it currently stands, discounting Moats, the depth at outside linebacker is clearly weaker than inside, as Chris Carter is the only other outside linebacker currently on the roster outside of Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones.
On the other hand, the Steelers have both Terence Garvin and Kion Wilson, who both have playing time experience in-game, at inside linebacker, in addition to Sean Spence, who, if healthy, could be a significant contributor. They also signed Dan Molls to a futures contract after the season.
Naturally, that would suggest that he’s currently more valuable to the Steelers lining up on the outside, given how bare the cupboard is there.
In fact, Bob Labriola suggested as much yesterday when he wrote on the team’s website that “Moats figures to fit in as a backup outside linebacker and core special teams guy who also can play inside linebacker”.
But that could change quickly based on how the rest of the offseason plays out. If the Steelers come upon an advantageous situation to pick up a free agent pass rusher, or if a high quality outside linebacker falls to them in the draft—or perhaps both—then the situation could be reversed.
The beauty is, of course, that it doesn’t matter with Moats on board, because he is capable of shoring up either position. Or more accurately, both positions.